NEW DELHI: Chief Justice S A Bobde on Wednesday dismissed an
CM Jaganmohan Reddy against
judge N V
after an elaborate in-house inquiry found the allegations “baseless, frivolous, false, motivated and an attempt to browbeat the judiciary”.
On October 6 last year, Reddy had sent the complaint to the CJI, days after a bench headed by
ordered speeding up of long-pending criminal trials against sitting and former MPs and MLAs to strengthen public faith in the justice delivery system. There are over a dozen criminal cases pending trial against the CM, many investigated by the
and the ED.
The complaint was seen by many as a likely fallout of Justice Ramana expediting criminal trials against elected representatives. The move was also seen as a settling of scores with the CM’s political rival Chandrababu Naidu, with whom Justice Ramana was close during his advocate days. This was prior to Justice Ramana’s appointment as a judge of Andhra Pradesh HC in 2000.
The SC issued a terse two sentence statement on Wednesday. “A complaint dated October 6, 2020, sent by the CM of Andhra Pradesh to the Supreme Court was dealt with under the in-house procedure and the same... stands dismissed. ...All the matters dealt with under the in-house procedure being strictly confidential in nature are not liable to be made public”.
TOI learnt that the CJI and two senior judges looked into the CM’s complaint and examined the charges which were two-fold — one, that Justice Ramana’s two daughters had bought land in Amaravati, the proposed capital of Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation, for a song even before the notification choosing Amaravati as the capital was issued; and two, that Justice Ramana had a stranglehold over the state judiciary which was passing adverse orders against the YSRCP government.
The two judges gave lengthy written opinions on the complaint and said the charges were levelled to “browbeat the judge” who was heading a bench which had passed orders to expedite the snailpaced criminal trials against powerful politicians.
Documents perused by TOI showed that Justice Ramana’s daughters, like many others, had bought land in Amaravati area in June 2015 from a local property dealer more than a year after then Union minister Panabaka Lakshmi in 2014 announced Amaravati as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation. Justice Ramana’s daughters had paid the consideration through cheques and declared it in their income tax returns, which were scrutinised by the I-T department.
The chronology of events makes the coincidence between the Justice Ramana-led bench hearing the
for fasttracking criminal trials against politicians, the lodging of FIR against his daughters and the sending of the complaint to the CJI intriguing.
The decision to expedite trials against influential politicians was taken on December 4, 2018, by an SC bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi. After his retirement, the PIL got assigned to CJI Bobde. However, as his daughter had appeared for a party in the case, he entrusted the hearing to a bench led by Justice Ramana on March 2 last year.
The Justice Ramana-led bench on September 10 asked the Centre to respond to a new prayer seeking life ban on convicted politicians, saying convicted bureaucrats got barred for life from government employment. Days later, the AP police registered an FIR against Justice Ramana’s daughters in the Amaravati land case.
With 4,442 criminal cases pending against former and sitting MPs and MLAs across states, the bench had deferred hearing on the PIL to September 16, when it set off the alarm bell by asking HC chief justices to formulate action plans on requirement of special courts to exclusively try criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.
On October 6, the bench asked for additional information from the HCs in tabulated form to enable passing substantive orders to fast-track criminal trials against politicians. This triggered a further reaction in the form of the CM writing a letter to the CJI, followed by a press conference by his aide making allegations against Justice Ramana and the HC chief justice.