New Delhi, November 15: A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice U.U. Lalit is scheduled on Monday to hear separate writ petitions against the Andhra Pradesh government and Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy for levelling “false, vague and political allegations” against sitting apex court judge, Justice N.V. Ramana, and other High Court judges.
The controversy is based on a letter by Reddy addressed to the Chief Justice of India against the judges, and the subsequent revelation of its contents during a press conference on October 10.
Recently, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had refrained from giving his statutory consent to pleas seeking contempt of court action against Reddy and his Principal Adviser Ajeya Kallam. Venugopal said it was up to the CJI, who is “seized of the letter” to take an appropriate decision. Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, in his contempt plea to Venugopal, claimed that the decision of a Bench led by Justice Ramana on September 16, directing expeditious completion of pending criminal trials against politicians had spurred Reddy to write the letter. Reddy, the lawyer said, had 31 criminal cases against him.
On Monday, Justice Lalit’s Bench will hear first the petition filed by advocate G.S. Mani, who has accused Reddy of “misusing his official post”, The Hindu reported. A similar petition has also been filed by an NGO, Anti Corruption Council of India Trust.
The third petition is by another lawyer, Sunil Kumar Singh, who has urged the apex court to issue an order to bar Mr. Reddy from making public statements against the judiciary and holding press conferences to malign the judicial institution.
The Constitution does not allow such deliberate attempt to publicly embarrass the judiciary.
“What is at stake is the confidence that courts inspire in the public in a democracy … Discussions can go wild in the media within hours or days and affect the image of the judiciary,” Singh contended.
The right places to bring allegations against the higher judiciary is Parliament or the State Legislature and not in press conferences.
The petition said the constitutional immunity granted to the judiciary is to allow it to function fearlessly.