On Sunday, the BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has filed an application before the Attorney General of India seeking his consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his advisor, Ajeya Kallam IAS for making public allegations against Justice NV Ramana, judge of the Supreme Court.
“It has been two weeks since the release of the letter in the public domain, and as yet, there has been no suo-moto contempt action initiated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. As a responsible advocate of this Court, and a servant of justice, I would be failing in my duty if I allowed things to remain as they are,” read the application.
Further, Upadhyay stated that the letter written by CM Jagan “scandalizes” the authority of both the Supreme Court and the High Court and interferes with the judicial proceedings and the administration of justice. “Even worse, if this kind of precedent is allowed, political leaders will start making reckless allegations against judges who do not decide cases in their favor and this trend would soon spell the death knell of an independent judiciary” stated Upadhyay.
Upadhyaya, who also happens to be the petitioner in a PIL seeking expeditious trial of cases against MPs/MLAs states that he has reasons to believe that the Andhra CM’s unprecedented action was a response to the order passed by a bench headed by Justice Ramana on September 16 to fast-track the criminal trial against legislators. He further submitted that CM Jagan is facing a number of criminal cases for corruption and disproportionate assets.
Upadhyay sought to initiate contempt proceedings against the AP chief minister under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act. “I am therefore seeking your kind consent under Section 15(1)(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3 of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975 to initiate criminal contempt against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Shri Ajeya Kallam, Press Advisor of the Government of Andhra Pradesh,” he added.
“The audacious assault by the Chief Minister and Kellam on the judiciary of the country is without precedent. The timing of the letter, the contents of the same, the rush to spill it to the public while the matter was pending with the Chief Justice and the separate Statement read out by Shri Kellam make it manifestly clear that this was done to interfere with the course of justice and lower the authority of the court,” said Upadhyay in his letter.
In an unprecedented move, AP Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to the CJI, alleging that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was being used to “destabilize and topple my democratically elected government.” He had requested the CJI to look into the matter and consider initiating steps “as may be considered fit and proper to ensure that the state judiciary’s neutrality is maintained.”