As the center transfers two chief judges, the order of the outgoing AP HC judge lifts the veil on unclear offers

On Thursday, the Center notified the appointment of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, as Chief Justice of the High Court of Sikkim, and the Chief Justice of the High Court of Sikkim, Arup Kumar Goswami, as Chief Justice of the High Court. courts in Andhra Pradesh.

Although the two appointments were the result of the Supreme Court’s recommendations of December 14, they coincide with a controversial order adopted on Wednesday by Judge Rakesh Kumar of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, who is retiring on Thursday. The coincidence is not without significance, because in his order, Judge Rakesh Kumar not only deplores the role of the Supreme Court in granting the executive, but also the inability of higher justice judges – on the verge of retiring – to withstand the overtures of the Executive to ensure post-retirement suicides.

Judge Rakesh Kumar’s order was linked to his refusal to challenge a hearing at the state land tender. The objection was filed by the state government on the grounds that Judge Kumar could have been disqualified because of his remarks against the state government while hearing another case.

Although Judge Kumar asked the state government’s lawyer to come prepared to answer why the court could not reach a finding that the state’s constitutional mechanisms had failed, it was in another case, which was duly suspended by the Court. Supreme. However, Judge Kumar denied in this case that there was a breakdown of the constitutional mechanism in the state and that the bank would hand over the administration of the Center, as the state claims through the additional attorney general, Sudhakar Reddy.

Judge Kumar agreed that the state government’s false statement in this regard was contemptuous and prima facie contemptuous and directed the high court registry to issue a reasoned notification to the state government for the same. Justice Kumar also directed the Registrar General of the High Court to initiate criminal proceedings against Reddy for perjury.

“Judicial system attacked by people in power”

Opinions may differ if Judge Kumar should have responded as he did, beyond giving reasons for refusing the challenge, as the state government had asked in a given case. As Reddy argued that the state government’s request for recusal was based on media reporting of the judge’s remarks during the hearing of the case, threatening him with contempt and criminal prosecution for perjury may seem a disproportionate response from the bank.

However, Judge Kumar’s remarks – which seem foreign to the facts of the case before him – must be understood in the context of his imminent retirement and his sense of inability to uphold the majesty of the court. As he mentions, “Nowadays, a very disturbing trend has developed in our system. If someone is influential, strong, that is, both in money and in muscles, he feels that he has all the privileges to do anything, depending on his convenience and the danger of the system or the poor citizen ”.

Referring to the suspension of his order by the Supreme Court of questioning why the high court could not reach a finding that the constitutional mechanisms failed in the state, Judge Kumar noted that an adverse deduction can be made against acts / excesses by the police in the state.

Justice Kumar referred to the state government’s recommendation to abolish the state legislature only because it did not agree with the assembly’s decision to set up three capitals and its action against the state election commissioner because it did not proceed as it wished. Judge Kumar argued that the state police had practically indulged in a practice of protecting the accused in the FIRs registered following the complaints from the registry.

Judge Kumar expressed concern that state bureaucrats were encouraged by the “apparent success of the Chief Minister of the State” in writing a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and publishing it. In his letter, Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy made serious allegations against the justice of NV Ramana of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and several sitting judges of the High Court.

Justice Kumar pointed out that the chief minister has been charged in more than 30 cases, of which the Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating at least ten cases. “In those cases, in which indictments were filed long ago, there is an accusation that he took several thousand rupees as a bribe and committed serious crimes under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 and other crimes “, Judge Kumar observed.

“Surprisingly, although the cases have been pending since 2011 and beyond, so far in none of the cases have the allegations been made. Isn’t that a mockery of the system? He asked.

Judge Kumar also questioned the IJC’s mysterious silence on the prime minister’s letter to him, saying “we are not aware whether or not any contempt has been taken for such an action; but, it is a fact that the recommendation was made on December 14, 2020, by the College of the Supreme Court for the transfer / appointment of chief judges, which includes the transfer of the chief justice of the AP superior court to the Sikkim High Court and the transfer of the Telangana High Court Chief Justice to the superior a Uttarakhand ”.

An annoying trend?

After noting the apparent link between the two events, Judge Kumar noted: managed to obtain an unjustified advantage at the present time. “

Justice Kumar deduced that through these transfers, naturally, cases pending before the Prime Minister could be delayed and monitoring by the Supreme Court could be difficult for the time being.

“Similarly, by transferring the Chief Justice of the AP High Court, the government of Andhra Pradesh is obliged to obtain unjustified benefits,” he added. Justice Kumar stressed the need for transparency in the transfer of high court judges or judges, saying that “after all, they also hold constitutional positions as members of the Supreme Court College.”

Many might question Judge Kumar’s correctness in providing details about the cases of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which the chief minister is accused and the other cases in which he is alleged to have committed crimes under the Indian Criminal Code. Thus, he said that there are 11 CBI cases, six ED cases and 18 CPI cases against the chief minister. Of these, in six or seven cases, he said, the state police filed the closure report, stating that they were false or in fact wrong.

He even claimed that the director general of the state police operates according to the dictates of the government and does not respect the rule of law. He claimed that he was forced to record these facts because his impartiality was questioned by the state on the eve of his retirement.

Turning his anger to post-retirement sinecks for judges as the reason the judiciary went under a cloud, he said: “If we start restricting our reassignment / re-employment expectations for at least one year after retirement, I believe that no political party, not even a ruling party, can undermine the independence of the judiciary, and we may be able to uphold the majesty of the law without being influenced by anyone. “

Justice Kumar concluded that those in power in the state are now trying to attack the Supreme Court, after they managed to attack other institutions such as the legislative council, the state electoral commission and the high court.

Given Judge Kumar’s ruling, he may be recalled or overturned to avoid any embarrassment to the Supreme Court. But the accusations and insinuations that Judge Kumar made in his last order may help unravel the turbulent transactions behind the curtain to resolve the state gang war, with repercussions in New Delhi.