Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's ongoing legal battles took an unexpected turn on Saturday with Reddy accusing the Supreme Court's Justice NV Ramana of attempting to destabilise and topple the YSR Congress government in the state.
The chief minister also referred to Justice Ramana's alleged "proximity" to TDP leader and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, and an Anti-Corruption Bureau probe into "questionable transactions of land", according to The Indian Express.
In an eight-page letter dated 6 October, Reddy wrote to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, alleging that Justice Ramana " next in line to be the CJI " "has been influencing the sittings of the (Andhra Pradesh) High Court including the roster of a few Honourable Judges".
Justice NV Ramana has been influencing the sittings of High Court including roster of a few judges, alleges Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy in a complaint sent to Chief Justice of India.@ysjagan pic.twitter.com/lFome6SvAs
" Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) October 10, 2020
This is said to be perhaps the first time that a Chief Minister has written to the CJI against a Supreme Court judge and the Chief Justice and judges of a High Court.
As per The Wire, the chief minister's letter to the CJI was disclosed by Ajeya Kallam, Chief Advisor to Government of Andhra Pradesh, in a press conference in Vijayawada on Saturday. The copies of the letter with its annexure were later circulated to media organisations.
In the letter, Reddy has mentioned "instances of how matters important to Telugu Desam Party have been allocated to a few Honourable Judges", and has detailed this in an annexure.
He brought to the CJI's notice how the High Court Chief Justice Maheswari had stayed further probe on an FIR filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau against former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas and 12 others in the Amaravati scam and even gagged the media from reporting on the contents of the FIR.
The letter states "ever since the YSR Congress Party gained power in May 2019 and ordered an inquiry into all the deals made by the regime of N Chandrababu Naidu from June 2014 to May 2019, Justice NV Ramana started influencing the course of administration of justice in the state".
He further urged the CJI to take steps to ensure that the state judiciary's neutrality is maintained.
Just last month, Justice Ramana while addressing an audience at a book launch, said judges are now being construed as soft targets for criticism and are becoming "victims of juicy gossip and slanderous social media posting.
Justice Ramana, the second senior-most judge of the apex court after the CJI, said that judges have to balance their social life in order to be independent.