NEW DELHI: A month before his retirement,
of India S A Bobde on Wednesday recommended senior-most
judge Justice N V
to the Centre as the next CJI.
In the process, Bobde dismissed an unprecedented complaint against Ramana submitted by
chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy after an in-house inquiry held the accusation to be “false, frivolous, baseless, motivated” false and an attempt to “browbeat” the judiciary.
In his letter to Union law minister
Ravi Shankar Prasad
, Bobde said Ramana was eminently suitable and fit to be appointed the next CJI, the first from Andhra Pradesh and the second Telugu to head the country’s judiciary after K Subba Rao. Ramana will take oath as the 48th CJI on April 24.
TOI learnt the CJI and two other senior judges examined Reddy’s complaint threadbare, the charges being two-fold — that Justice Ramana's two daughters had bought land in Amaravati, the proposed capital of Andhra Pradesh, for a song even before the notification for the future capital was issued, and that Justice Ramana had a stranglehold over the Andhra Pradesh judiciary which was passing adverse orders against the Reddy government.
The two judges gave lengthy written opinions on the complaint and termed the charges “false, frivolous, baseless, motivated" and said these were levelled to "browbeat the judge" who was heading a bench which had passed orders to expedite snail-paced
against sitting and former MPs/MLAs.
Documents perused by TOI showed that Justice Ramana's daughters, like many others, bought land in Amaravati area in June 2015 from a local property dealer more than a year after then Union minister Panabaka Lakshmi in February 2014 announced Amaravati as the new capital.
When he takes oath, Justice Ramana will be the second Telugu to head the judiciary. The figures of
and Ramana are a contrast. Justice Rao was born in a wealthy advocate family and his father-in-law was a judge of Madras HC. Rao enrolled as an advocate in Madras HC in 1926 and was appointed as its judge in March 1948. After Andhra Pradesh was formed, Justice Rao was appointed its chief justice in July 1954. He was appointed to the SC in January 1958 and became CJI on June 30, 1966.
Nine months into his tenure as CJI, Justice Rao resigned to contest the presidential election as a united opposition candidate, the first CJI to do so. He was defeated by Congress's
, but earned laurels by getting 44% of the vote.
Justice Ramana was born in an agricultural family on August 27, 1957, in Ponnavaram village in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. He enrolled as an advocate on February 10, 1983, and practised in Andhra Pradesh HC and the SC in civil, criminal, constitutional, labour, service and election matters and specialised in constitutional, criminal and service laws and laws relating to inter-state river water disputes.
He was appointed as a permanent judge of Andhra Pradesh HC on June 27, 2000. He was appointed chief justice of Delhi HC on September 2, 2013 and became a judge of the SC on February 17, 2014.
Being the executive chairman of National Legal Services Authority for the last one and a half years, Justice Ramana has focused on providing speedy justice to citizens and is determined to provide meaningful access to justice to the downtrodden, poor, women and children in distress.
Outlining his views, he said, "The idea of access to justice is deeply embedded in the constitutional vision of justice. Legal aid is an important element in ensuring that access to justice is available to all people, irrespective of their social or economic position. The concept of access to justice in India is much broader than confining it to providing lawyers for representation before the courts. It includes increasing legal awareness and also providing legal assistance to the poor and the marginalised for actualisation of their rights and entitlements."