Ananthakrishnan G

Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, on whose PIL the Supreme Court had ordered special courts for cases against MPs and MLAs, wrote Thursday to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, urging him to call a meeting of the full court in the wake of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s letter to the CJI and a press conference levelling charges against Justice N V Ramana. Slamming the Chief Minister for his “blatant attempt to shake the confidence of the public at large in the judiciary,” Upadhyay said, “Reddy has crossed the line which separates Judiciary and Executive”.

Upadhyay sent the letter on the day more Bar associations condemned Reddy’s remarks and rallied behind Justice Ramana who is next in line to be the CJI. His PIL, filed in 2016 with a view to check criminalisation of politics by fast-tracking criminal cases against sitting and former legislators, is currently being heard by a bench headed by Justice Ramana.

In his letter, Upadhyay alleged “serious cases of corruption, black money, benami property and disproportionate assets are pending against Mr Reddy and his colleagues”.

Referring to an analysis by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), his letter stated, “Reddy and his colleagues are facing serious charges of crime and corruption, which would have landed any ordinary man in jail for at least 10 years, if sentenced concurrently, and for more than 30 years, if sentenced consecutively.”

He pointed out that he had also filed other PILs, including one seeking ban on a convicted person from forming a political party and/or becoming political office bearer, another seeking consecutive sentencing of the corrupt, still another to bring national and state-recognised political parties under the ambit of the RTI Act, which are all pending in court.

“The letter (by Reddy) and press conference is no more than a dishonest and mischievous attempt to pressurize the judiciary, when above stated PILs are likely to be heard for final disposal. The letter was released in public domain not only to derail the above matters but also to intimidate judicial proceedings. In fact, Mr Reddy is not only indulging in bench-hunting but also wants the Apex Court to stop hearing these cases,” Upadhyay alleged.

He said “this is not a silly mischievous deceitful act but a deliberate fraudulent and calculated attempt to not only undermine the Apex Court but also to terrorise the Judiciary. Therefore, I request to call ‘Full Court Meeting to discuss the Issue’ and take appropriate stern steps in order to give a strong message, so that no one can even think of using such deceitful and fraudulent tactics against the judiciary in future.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) has backed the Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Association (SCAORA) resolution expressing “deep anguish” over the contents of the letter written by the Chief Minister, and its “unwarranted release” in public.

“SCWLA condemns in the strongest terms what appears to be an attempt to malign the reputation of the Learned Judge and the dignity of the Institution, thus shaking the confidence reposed in the institution by the people of India as also worldwide,” Association general secretary and advocate Prerna Kumari said in a statement.

In a press release, Bar Council of India chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra said the “Council is aghast and appalled at the reprehensible move by the” Chief Minister “to target” Justice Ramana and “several judges of Andhra Pradesh High Court, including its Chief Justice… with the sole aim to undermine the independence of the judiciary and browbeat judges to suit his own purposes”.
“The fact that Justice Ramana is next in line to be the Chief Justice of India makes the intentions of these people more obvious,” the release stated.

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