In an unprecedented order, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) High Court expressed its strong disapproval at the Supreme Court Collegium in relation to transfer of two Chief Justices while also castigating the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led regime in the State for its attempts to undermine the High Court.
A plea presented on behalf of the State government for the recusal of a AP High Court Judge was what led to scathing observations against the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led regime in Andhra Pradesh and orders for the registration of a complaint to initiate criminal prosecution.
The order also saw the Court taking exception to the manner in which the Supreme Court Collegium transferred two High Court Chief Justices – Justice RS Chauhan of Telangana High Court and Justice JK Maheshwari of Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The Court noted that transfers came immediately after Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy wrote a letter to CJI SA Bobde criticising the functioning of AP High Court. This meant the CM got what he wanted because the High Court was seized of the issue of speeding up criminal cases against MPs/ MLAs and there are a slew of such cases pending against YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the Court said.
Justice Rakesh Kumar himself authored the lead judgment rejecting the application moved for his recusal in a case involving a challenge to the auction of State land.
While taking strong exception to the recusal plea moved by Additional Advocate General Sudhakar Reddy, Justice Kumar did not hold back in accusing the Government of interfering with the functioning of other Constitutional institutions.
“Firstly, attack was made on Legislative Council, thereafter another Constitutional body, i.e., State Election Commission; and, now the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and even the Supreme Court is under attack by persons, who are in power,” the judgment passed today read.
The delay in disposing of criminal cases against the Chief Minister was also criticised elaborately, with the Judge commenting,
“Surprisingly, though cases are pending since 2011 and onwards, till date, in none of the cases, charges have been framed. Is it not a mockery with the system?”
In a brief concurring opinion, Justice D Ramesh observed, “the present situation has created a piquant situation, which would have been avoided had the State was given proper legal advice.”
Earlier the State, through AAG Sudhakar Reddy, alleged that in an earlier hearing in the case, Justice Rakesh Kumar had commented,
“… how could the Government auction the properties of the State, had Government become bankrupt to auction Government properties. We will declare there is break down of constitutional machinery in the State and hand over the administration to the Central Government.”
The AAG added that this observation has been reported verbatim in newspapers.The Judge, however, denied having made such a comment.