The Andhra Pradesh government today complained to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) about the intervention and influencing of serving Supreme Court judge Justice NV Ramana in the proceedings of the state high court. These interventions, the state government of the YSRCP alleged, benefited former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP). The state government sought the apex court’s intervention to ensure that the state judiciary remains neutral.
Justice Rama is slated to succeed CJI SA Bobde.
Addressing the news media yesterday, Principal Adviser to the Chief Minister Ajaya Kallam released a letter written by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy to the CJI. The letter categorically stated that the government had material evidence to show that Justice Ramana had been influencing the proceedings of the state high court. This was in the context of the recently issued orders staying the proceedings of the cabinet sub-committee and the SIT and stay on the investigation and gag order on an FIR filed against former advocate-general Dammalapati Srinivas and two daughters of Justice NV Ramana and others.
The authority removed the names in compliance with the high court orders that followed a writ petition.
Andhra Pradesh govt’s case against Justice Ramana
The case pertains to people in the high office and their associates buying land to a large extent in the proposed capital region of Andhra Pradesh with the prior knowledge of its price appreciation. The development has come to be known as the Amaravati land scam. The land deals were made during the term of Naidu.
The Reddy government has placed material evidence of Justice NV Ramana’s proximity with N Chandrababu Naidu before the CJI. It has alleged the Supreme Court judge had intervened to protect the interests of the TDP. It mentioned the instances of ‘judicial impropriety’ of Justice Ramana — while he was a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court — in passing orders favouring Dammalapati Srinivas, who was appointed as the advocate general of the state in May 2016.
Chief Minister Reddy, in his letter dated 6 October, said he respected the judiciary, the high court and the Supreme Court. He wrote the letter was aimed at sensitising the highest court of the country about the acts of a few individual judges. He reiterated his government’s abiding compliance with the judiciary, the constitution and all institutions.
The eight-page letter mentioned the material the chief minister had enclosed in the annexure to show that “Justice NV Ramana has been influencing the high court” in matters “including the roster of a few honourable judges and instances of how matters important to the TDP have been allocated to a few honourable judges to establish the nexus between Justice NV Ramana, TDP and a few judges of the high court.”
The letter cited the latest instance of the orders passed by Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Maheshwari, in a writ petition filed by Dammalapati Srinivas. Reddy wrote the case could lead to no other inference. “This is the order of stay of an investigation in the FIR lodged against D Srinivas, including the gag order on press, against which an SLP is preferred. An interim order was passed on the very next day of the gag order staying further proceedings, despite the SLP,” the chief minister wrote.
“The beneficiaries of both orders of the High Court are politicians belonging to the TDP, of which Justice NV Ramana was a legal adviser and Additional Advocate General in the past advising the government run by the TDP and his closeness to Chandrababu Naidu is well known. This reflects in the nature of orders passed staying investigation, inquiry and rest at the admission stage itself,” the letter further read.
“To avoid power in any one of the three branches, the Constitution has devised a scheme of power distribution both horizontally and vertically. The check on members of the judiciary is their conscience and adherence to settled principles and jurisprudence,” Reddy said in the letter.
During the period of 2014-19, former Chief Minister Naidu and his coterie, Reddy alleged, had amassed wealth by misuse of power which mandated an inquiry by the YSRCP government based on numerous complaints. The cabinet sub-committee report was placed in the State Assembly, the letter noted, which has pointed at the illegal transactions of about 4,000 ac of land.
In course of the inquiry, it came to light, Reddy said, that two daughters of Justice Ramana and some of his close associates and relatives were beneficiaries of the questionable transactions that took place between the date of swearing in by Naidu as the chief minister and his announcement of the state’s capital region (Amaravati). The then government routed the transactions through D Srinivas who was at that point of time the additional advocate-general of the state.
In the annexure, Chief Minister Reddy gave a detailed report on the numerous petitions and PILs that the TDP or its sympathisers had filed against the decisions and bills the government passed and the court, with names of judges, protecting their interests —
- the Amaravati Land scam
- the stay on the eviction or demolition process
- a criminal petition on Ramesh Hospitals
- the state election commissioner seeking quashing of the FIR against the assistant secretary of Navayuga Engineering
- writ challenging the SIT and cabinet sub-committee findings
- allegations of phone tapping of judges
- PIL relating to the arrest of Naidu in Vizag…
… among others.
The Andhra Pradesh government has appealed to the CJI to look into the matter and consider initiating steps to ensure that the state judiciary’s neutrality is maintained.