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Pro-Jagan transfer of judges pains Andhra Pradesh High Court

The bench noted that Reddy not only got corruption cases against him closed, but also impressed that Justice Maheshwari was transferred on his complaint

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 31.12.20, 02:36 AM
Chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy

Chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy File picture

Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday made unprecedented comments on the Supreme Court collegium’s decision to transfer two high court chief justices while they were hearing corruption cases against chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy who has been warming up to the Narendra Modi government.

The collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde had shifted Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari to Sikkim High Court and Telangana High Court Chief Justice R.S. Chouhan to Uttarakhand High Court on December 14.


The neighbouring Andhra and Telangana high courts have been hearing cases against Jagan.

The bench of Andhra Pradesh high court’s Justices Rakesh Kumar and D. Ramesh noted that the chief minister had not only shown the audacity to get some of the 30-odd corruption/ money-laundering cases against him closed but had created an impression that Justice Maheshwari had been transferred out of the state on a complaint from him to the Chief Justice of India.

Writing the judgment, Justice Rakesh Kumar noted that Jagan seemed to have been emboldened by his no-holds-barred attack on the Supreme Court’s second senior-most judge, Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Maheshwari and several Andhra Pradesh High Court judges at a media conference held by an official.

The media conference was held by Jagan’s principal secretary, Ajey Kallam, on October 10, days after a bench headed by Justice Ramana had passed orders for completion of the trial against all lawmakers in the country within a year. Kallam had made public a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India by Jagan, accusing Justice Ramana of interfering in the functioning of Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court bench said: “Whether by this act of sending the unceremonious letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh will get final relief or not, fact remains that he succeeded in getting undue advantage at the present moment.

“People may draw an inference as if after the so-called letter of Hon’ble Chief Minister, the two Chief Justices, i.e., Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana and Chief Justice of High Court of AP, have been transferred. By the said transfer, naturally, the cases pending in the Court of Special Judge for CBI cases in Hyderabad against Sri Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, present Chief Minister, and others may be delayed and monitoring by the Hon’ble Supreme Court… may hamper for the time being.”

Justice Kumar noted: “Similarly, by the transfer of Chief Justice of AP High Court, the Government of Andhra Pradesh is bound to get undue benefit. It is an open fact that the issue of three capitals in the State of Andhra Pradesh is the brainchild of the present Chief Minister.”

The Andhra high court made the scathing observations while dealing with a batch of petitions challenging the state government’s decision to transfer government land to private individuals through auctions.

Justice Kumar added: “I am not raising any question on the transfer of the Hon’ble Chief Justices, either of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh or of the High Court for the State of Telangana, but, at the same time, I am constrained to observe that transfer of High Court Judges or its Chief Justices may reflect some transparency and for betterment or uplift of the administration of justice. After all, they are also holding constitutional posts like members of Hon’ble Supreme Court collegium.”

The court noted that on a single day in September, Andhra police had filed closure reports (mentioning as “false”) in more than seven or eight criminal cases in which Jagan was an accused and where investigation had been pending for several years.

In a veiled attack on judges aspiring to post-retirement sinecure jobs, the presiding high court judge observed: “I am of the opinion that for a situation, which is prevailing, today in which impartiality, integrity, honesty, unbiased… in judicial system is being raised, to some extent we are also responsible. Several instances we have noticed that immediately after demitting the office of judge, the judges are provided with a new assignment.

“If we start to restrict our expectation of reassignment/ re-employment at least for a period of one year after retirement, I don’t think that any political party, even a party in power, can undermine the independence of judiciary and we may be in a position to uphold the majesty of law without being influenced by anyone.”

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