Saturday, December 5, 2020

SC advocate writes to AGI to reconsider his decision on consenting to contempt case against Jagan, Kallam

New Delhi: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya, a Supreme Court advocate and BJP leader, has written his second letter to Attorney General od India (AGI) K.K. Venugopal on Thursday requesting him to reconsider his decision to not give his consent to proceed against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his principal advisor Ajeya Kallam on initiating criminal contempt charges. The litigant has cited some new grounds on which the AGI could reconsider his decision. The following is the letter:

5.11.2020

Hon’ble Sh. K.K.Venugopal,

Attorney General for India,

Subject: Request for Reconsideration: Request for Consent to initiate Criminal Contempt against Sh. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Sh. Ajeya Kallam

REF: My request dated 25.10.2020 and your Reply dated 02.11.2020

Sir,

At the outset, I express my gratitude for the prompt response that you have accorded to my above request. I know your time is precious and I am grateful that you have accommodated my plea.

Your letter makes it clear that you find the conduct of both these persons prima facie contumacious. However, my request has been declined on the ground that the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India is seized of the matter. I am afraid that this latter aspect may require reconsideration for the following reasons:The letter of Sh. Reddy to the Chief Justice was dated 6.10.2020 but sent to the CJI on 08.10.2020. This was a private missive with scurrilous contents. At this stage, it was left to the CJI alone to determine whether it constituted contempt. But, once Sh. Kallam on Sh. Reddy’s behalf called a press conference, read out a separate statement and released the letter to the media and public on 10.10.2020, it ceased to be a private matter, and there was also an additional actor and an additional statement made. Now, the public have been given the impression that Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are involved in influencing cases, and this you have opined is contumacious, albeit prima facie. These subsequent facts are not a part of the complaint pending with the Chief Justice.

You may also note that the Chief Justice is seized of a complaint BY Sh. Jagan Mohan Reddy against the judiciary, NOT a complaint of contempt AGAINST him and his Advisor. It is unclear how the fact that Sh. Reddy’s complaint pending with the Chief Justice can preclude my right to initiate criminal contempt against him and Sh. Kallam. Even if such were the case, consent could be granted by you, and my petition would be tagged for hearing.

I wish to draw your attention to the Restatement on Contempt of Court (2011) published by the Supreme Court of India which has been co-authored by you, in which, in the context of Section 15, it has been stated that “Giving or refusing consent is a statutory function” [p.99]. As it is a statutory function, I would humbly submit that the import of Section 15 is only to have the judgment of the highest Law Officer precede a motion being made by any person to initiate criminal contempt proceedings through application of mind to the content of the alleged contempt. Once a conclusion is drawn that the contempt is prima facie made out, it would be necessary for the consent to follow. For example, it would not be appropriate for me to be told to make my motion to the Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh just as it would not be relevant that the Chief Justice is a recipient on the administrative side of a private communication.

Sir, I humbly request you to peruse these points (particularly the fact that the question of contempt is not pending anywhere else) and kindly reconsider the granting of consent to my request. This is an issue of great importance at a time when our judiciary continues to be besieged by attacks, and a strong stand needs to be taken by those of us who are a part of the institution.

Your sincerely,
Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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