The Andhra Pradesh High Court Wednesday observed that the recent transfer of Chief Justices of High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana would delay proceedings in the three capitals case and the CBI cases pending against Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, giving him an “undue advantage”.
The scathing observation was made by Justice Rakesh Kumar, while rejecting an application moved by the AP Government to recuse himself from a case involving the sale of government land in Guntur and Visakhapatnam districts.
Justice Kumar also observed that Andhra Pradesh High Court and Supreme Court is “under attack” by those in power.
“We are not aware as to whether any contempt proceeding for such an action (Jagan’s letter to CJI) has been taken or not by the Chief Justice of India. But, it is a fact that recommendation has been made on December 14 by the Collegium of Supreme Court for transfer/appointment of Chief Justices, which includes transfer of Chief Justice of AP High Court to Sikkim High Court and transfer of Chief Justice of Telangana High Court to Uttarakhand High Court. Whether by this act of sending an unceremonious letter to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh will get final relief or not but fact remains that he succeeded in getting undue advantage at the present moment. People may draw an inference as if after the so called letter of Chief Minister, the two Chief Justices, i.e., Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana and Chief Justice of High Court of AP have been transferred. By the said transfer, naturally, the cases pending in the Court of Special Judge for CBI cases in Hyderabad against Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and others may be delayed and monitoring by the Supreme Court in W.P (Civil) No.699 of 2016 may hamper for the time being,” he observed.
In an unprecedented move, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, on October 6, had written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde alleging that the state High Court was being used to “destabilise and topple’ his democratically elected government. Andhra Pradesh High Court’s Chief Justice J K Maheshwari was transferred to the Sikkim High Court, weeks after the letter to CJI.
The judge also observed that there should be transparency in the SC Collegium orders. “I am not raising any question on the transfer of Chief Justices, either of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh or of the High Court for the State of Telangana, but, at the same time, I am constrained to observe that transfer of High Court Judges or its Chief Justices may reflect some transparency and for betterment or upliftment of the administration of justice. After all, they are also holding Constitutional posts like members of Supreme Court Collegium,” he observed.
In a direct attack against Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, Justice Rakesh Kumar stated that he Googled to know about the cases against him. “Till the publication of the letter of Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, I was not having much information about him. But, immediately thereafter, I became curious to know about him. Subsequently, I was told that if I go on site ‘Google’ and type only “Khaidi No.6093”, I can get information. Accordingly, I did the same thing and thereafter I got very disturbing information,” he observed.
Justice Rakesh Kumar also attached several articles about the CBI cases against CM Jagan Mohan Reddy to his order, and gave details of all the CBI and Enforcement Directorate cases against him. Addressing the petition filed by the government to recuse himself from the case, Justice Kumar stated: “In the present batch of cases in which final hearing is yet to commence, unceremoniously a petition has been filed, not by the private party, but on behalf of the State of Andhra Pradesh, duly sworn by a senior bureaucrat making some wild allegation against one of the members of the Division Bench Justice Rakesh Kumar). For a while I was astonished with such behaviour of the State but immediately thereafter, I perceived that bureaucrats of this State have been emboldened after apparent success of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in addressing a letter to the Chief Justice of India and making it public, making allegation against one of the senior Judges of Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of AP High Court and number of sitting Judges of AP High Court with their names.”
Striking down the petition to recuse himself, he observed: “If such petitions are entertained, it will amount to allowing the party for hunting the Bench. Such an action by the State was not expected, but in this State, as I have observed the circumstances herein above, everything can be possible. However, at the same time, the Court cannot be frightened by any such action of the State.”