Justice Rakesh Kumar of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has made certain scathing observations against the Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and his government.
The observations were made against the proposals made by the Supreme Court collegium to transfer the Chief Justices of High Courts of AP and Telangana. Justice Kumar went to the extent of saying that the High Court of Andhra Pradesh was under attack from persons in power. While adding that he was not raising any questions at the collegium proposals, Justice Kumar observed that transfer of High Court Judges or its Chief Justices “may reflect some transparency.”
“One can infer how the Government in the State of Andhra Pradesh is proceeding. Firstly, the 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. To some extent after getting success in overreaching and undermining two Constitutional Bodies, i.e., Legislative Council and the State Election Commission, it was the turn of highest Court in the State of Andhra Pradesh, i.e., High Court of Andhra Pradesh,” he observed in the order.
Further, while seeking to draw a connection between the transfer proposals of the SC collegium and the bombastic letter shot by AP Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy to the Chief Justice of India with allegations against the state judiciary, Justice Rakesh Kumar stated that “After all, they are also holding Constitutional post like a member of Hon’ble Supreme Court Collegium.”
Justice Kumar observed that by sending the “unceremonious letter” to the CJI, the Chief Minister has “succeeded in getting the undue advantage at the present moment”.
The judge also referred to the social media abuses hurled by the members of the ruling party against judges after the High Court passed adverse orders against the government.
The High Court has initiated contempt proceedings with respect to such posts and has ordered CBI inquiry against YSRCP members for such defamatory posts.
Further, while making a strong remark that the protection of fundamental rights of the citizens of Andhra Pradesh by the High Court has become difficult, Justice Kumar asserted that “In the present situation, which is prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, with heavy heart, I may not refrain to record that protection of fundamental rights of citizens of the State of Andhra Pradesh by this Court has become very difficult.”
“We have dealt with several writ petitions and habeas corpus pleas alleging illegal arrest and detention, police excesses, forcible dispossession, etc. One can draw an adverse inference against the acts/excesses by the police in the State of Andhra Pradesh,” the HC order mentioned.
Earlier, a division bench led by Justice Kumar converted the hearing on a batch of habeas corpus petitions and petitions alleging police excesses as a hearing on the issue of whether there is a ‘constitutional breakdown’ in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Though the State Government filed an application seeking recall of the order, the bench rejected it. The proceedings, in that case, have been stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal made by the State Government. While issuing the stay order, the Chief Justice of India orally observed that the HC proceedings were ‘disturbing’.
Further, in the present order, Justice Kumar mentioned that he got “disturbing information” about Chief Minister after searching “Khaidi No. 6093” in Google. Then the judge went on to extract the screenshots of newspaper reports about the corruption allegations against Jagan Mohan Reddy, which were returned after a Google search of “Khaidi No. 6093”.
“Till the publication of the letter, dated 06.10.2020, of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, I was not having much information about him. But, immediately thereafter, I became curious to know about him. Subsequently, I was told that if I go on-site ‘Google’ and type only “Khaidi No. 6093″, I can get much information. Accordingly, I did the same thing, and thereafter I got very disturbing information. Some of such extracts I got downloaded are quoted hereinbelow”, the judge said in the order.
The order then went on to enumerate the 30 criminal cases pending against Jagan Reddy. It was noted that police have closed many cases citing lack of evidence. This, the judge said, reflected “how the head of the Police, i.e., the Director-General of Police, Government of Andhra Pradesh, is functioning as per the dictate of the Government, not in upholding rule of law in the State”.
“Is it not a mockery with the system?”, the judge asked referring to the delay in the prosecution against the Chief Minister.
“I am well aware that many of my observations made hereinabove may not be in consonance with the technicality, but since on the verge of my retirement, my impartiality has been questioned by the Government of Andhra Pradesh on my face in the present proceeding, in my defense, I was constrained to record above facts, which are based on the record and may not be disputed. My only endeavor is to uphold the majesty of the law”, the judge added.