Amaravati: In what could be viewed as far-reaching consequences on the country’s independent judiciary, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has accused six top-ranking judicial officers of being “biased” against his government. They, he alleged, are in alliance with his TDP rival N. Chandrababu Naidu. In the list of judges he is suspecting of ‘bias’ are the senior most judge and next-in-line-to be Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, AP High Court Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheswari. The other four are subordinate judges in the State High Court.
Ajey Kallam, Principal Secretary to the AP Chief Minister, at a media conference late on Saturday night made public a letter Reddy mailed to the CJI S A Bobde dated October 6 and the other confidential communiqués that took place between the AP High Court’s the Chief Justice and the CJI of the apex court in 2016 in relation to the recommendation of six out of 11 panel members from the bar quota for promotion as additional judges in an apparent bid to justify his grave charge.
Institution of the High Court is being used to destabilize and topple the democratically elected Government of the State of A.P. with indelible trail leading back to the overt and covert actions of N. Chandrababu Naidu through Honourable Sri Justice N. V. Ramana,” the CM alleged in the letter.
With this the tussle between the state legislature headed by Jagan Reddy and the judiciary has reached a flash point. The high court passing nearly 100 orders negating several decisions of the government engendered the conflict. Kallam was apparently unmindful of the gag orders issued by the high court Chief Justice seeking the government to restrain from making public the contents of a first information report (FIR) filed by the ACB against two daughters of a Supreme Court Judge in connection with the alleged land scam in Amaravati while naming the judge and the “shady” land deals in which the judge’s family was reportedly involved.
Jagan opted for a direct confrontation with the judiciary after he met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on September 5 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 6, the day when he lodged a complaint to the CJI against judges.
TDP suspects Jagan’s motive
The opposition TDP suspected the motives behind Jagan targeting Ramana at a time when he is all poised to be elevated as the next CJI in the next six months as per seniority. The CBI Special Court in Hyderabad is tasked with speeding up the quid-pro-quo cases in which Jagan Reddy was framed as the Accused Number One in line with the Supreme Court direction, the TDP’s spokesman C. Kutumbha Rao said in a TV debate on Saturday. Jagan feared he would be convicted of his “offences” if Ramana becomes CJI and that the CM is out to curtail the prospects of his elevation by all means, Rao said.
But Jagan has a different version. He alleged that Ramana and his “cohorts” have been creating roadblocks for his government to go ahead with its agenda by being “biased” in delivering orders on petitions filed by TDP leaders in the high court. The government’s projects stalled in view of court litigations include shifting of capital from Amaravati, scrapping of the state Legislative Council and reinstatement of the AP State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar, who was sacked by the government, through a court order.
A chip off the old block
Jagan’s father Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy took on media baron Ch. Ramoji Rao, accusing him of being hand in glove with his rival Chandrababu Naidu and aimed to proceed against Rao’s chit fund company on charges of committing financial frauds. In a similar fashion, Jagan too targeted SEC Ramesh Kumar and judicial officers, attaching lables as “Naidu men”.