- I watched the press conference, nothing extra was said
- Nobody has a right to insist on initiating contempt proceedings
- It is between the court and the contemnor
Attorney General of India K. K. Venugopal has made it clear to the persisting advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a BJP leader, that there is no question of his conceding to the request to allow the latter to proceed against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for criminal contempt of Supreme Court. ‘CJI is already aware of it. I don’t concede to your request. But nothing stops you from telling it to judges,’ AG told the advocate. He also said contempt is a matter between the court and the contemnor and no person has a right to insist of contempt proceedings.
“You are already a part”
“You can bring the same to the notice of Court in the matter in which you are already a part,” Venugopal told Upadhyay in his reply dated 07 November 2020. “Your request to reconsider my decision dated 02 November 2020 declining consent to initiate proceedings of criminal contempt under Section 15 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, read with Rule 3 (C) of the Rules to regulate proceedings of the contempt of the Supreme Court of India, 1975,” cannot be granted, said the Attorney General. Upadhyay had requested for the consent of the AG to proceed against both Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his principal secretary Ajeya Kallam, who released the chief minister’s letter to the Chief Justice of India along with its enclosures. Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has written a second letter to the AG on 05 November 2020 citing new grounds on which his request could be conceded. But the AG has declined once again stating the same reasons.
“The letter was not marked confidential”
“I have myself watched the video of the press conference and I find that nothing extra was said other than what was already there in the letter which was addressed to the Chief Justice. The letter released to the press and enclosed in your original request for consent was therefore the subject matter of the contempt. Nowhere in the letter, a copy of which has been enclosed by you, marked confidential. In other words, the letter cannot be described as a private missive. It was widely being reported by the press. Hence there is no reason for me to change my mind,” explained Venugopal.
Crux of the alleged contempt lies in the contents
“The very crux of the alleged contempt lies in the contents of the letter written by Shri. Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to the Chief Justice of India, and thus it is open to the Supreme Court to take up the matter of contempt suo mottu as provided by the Contempt of Courts Act, and the rules made thereunder. Given that the Chief Justice of India is seized of the matter, it would not be appropriate for me to grant consent and preclude the determination of the Chief Justice of India on the matter. As you are no doubt aware, contempt is a matter between Court and contemnor, and no person as of right can insist upon the initiation of contempt proceedings.
However, Venugopal had invited Upadhyay’s attention to the fact the his refusal to grant consent does not preclude you from bringing these facts to the notice of Hon’ble judges of Supreme Court with a prayer for initiation of suo mottu action. “You may exercise this right either by way of information placed on the administrative side or by bringing it to the attention of the Court during the hearing of writ Petition (C) 699/2016 where you are already the petitioner in person,” the AG advised the advocate.