Hyderabad : A couple of newspapers, The Times of India and the New Indian Express, in particular, have reported that Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has sought senior Supreme Court Judge Justice NV Ramana’s response to a complaint filed by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy accusing the senior judge of influencing the Andhra Pradesh High Court which was acutely critical of the State government.
Trial of criminal cases expedited:
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is understood to have asked the chief minister to file an affidavit backing his letter dated 6 October 2020 in which he had complained against Justice NV Ramana and the chief justice of Andhra Pradesh HC and some other judges for the alleged bias against his government. The CM had sent the complaint to the CJI soon after a bench headed by Justice Ramana had expedited the snail-paced trial in criminal cases pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs. It is common knowledge that there are over two dozen cases pending against Jagan Mohan Reddy. They were slapped after he walked out of the Congress defying Sonia Gandhi and launched his own party, YSRCP.
YS Jagan had followed CJI’s directive and filed an affidavit. “It is still not clear whether Justice Ramana has submitted his response to the complaint. After receiving the response, it is for the CJI to take a call on the fate of the complaint. The CJI could close the issue on finding Justice Ramana’s response adequate. Otherwise, he may decide to further inquire into the issue,” TOI quoted an SC source.
Jagan’s letter had its effect:
The AP CM’s complaint had triggered fast-paced developments. First, the collegium transferred the chief justices of AP and Telangana State, the two high courts where the cases against Jagan were pending. It was followed by an SC bench headed by the CJI staying an AP HC order that had sought to hear to know if the law and order and Constitutional procedures have failed in AP in view of the habeas corpus petitions filed in HC complaining against the State government for unwarranted detentions. A bench of Justice Rakesh Kumar and D. Ramesh passed a stinging order on 30 December 2020 escalating the clash between the judiciary and the executive.
Attack a day before retirement:
Before Justice Kumar retired on 31 December 2020, he mounted an attack a day earlier on the chief minister listing out the cases pending against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. There are eleven cases filed by the CBI and six by the Enforcement Directorate and 18 police cases. He said soon after the SC bench headed by Justice Ramana ordered on 16 September 2020 expeditious trial of pending cases against the sitting or former MPs and MLAs, the police started filing closure reports in some of the cases against Jagan.
Justice lists cases against Jagan:
Justice Rakesh Kumar was earlier asked to recuse from hearing cases against State government. Then Justice Kumar said, “One can infer how the government in the State of Andhra Pradesh is proceeding. First, attack was made on Legislative Council (for refusing to agree with Assembly on the three capital issue), there after another constitutional body which is State Election Commission and now the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and even the Supreme Court is under attack by persons who are in power.” He even talked about Jagan’s jail life referring to ‘Khaidi Number,’ without sparing any punches. The State government would be filing a petition against this order of the outgoing judge.
It is all out war between Jagan, Naidu:
There is a public perception that all the three public institutions listed by Justice Rakesh Kumar, which are allegedly under attack by the persons in power, have been allegedly connected to the opposition leader and former chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. His TDP has majority in the Legislative Council and the Election Commissioner was appointed by his when he was in office. The CM made it clear that Justice Ramana has been close to Naidu and is influencing the high court. Naidu is allegedly behind the habeas corpus petitions filed in the high court. It is, in fact, a political fight for supremacy between the opposition leader and the chief minister on all fronts including political, legislature, judicial and media.
All the fronts are divided in their perception of the developments taking place in Telugu States right from the day the then chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, was killed in a copter accident on 2 September 2009. Political leaders right from Sonia Gandhi, P. Chidambaram, Ahmad Patel, Chandrababu Naidu, Kiran Kumar Reddy and many others have been involved in the process of instituting CBI inquiry against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and filing of cases and Jagan’s 16-month incarceration. The change of leadership at the Centre, the division of AP, defeat of TDP in AP and Jagan Mohan Reddy coming to power had changed the equations. The war between Naidu and Jagan which began soon after YSR’s demise has been continuing with turns and twists. For the first time in the saga, Jagan appears to be on a level-playing field.