PIL over case against Andhra judge: SC seeks record of appointment 12 yrs ago
The appointment of a High Court judge made 12 years ago was reopened by the Supreme Court on Friday after a PIL claimed that a criminal case pending against the judge was overlooked by the selection committee of Supreme Court judges which recommended his appointment.
Calling for the entire records related to the appointment in a sealed cover, the bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai sought the assistance of Attorney General GE Vahanvati in going about the PIL filed by one M Manohar Reddy.
Posting the matter for January 21, the court asked the AG to indicate how the writ petition seeking removal of a sitting High Court judge was maintainable. He was further asked to produce all records prior to June 27, 2000, the day the judge got appointed as High Court judge.
On going through the records, the bench said, “It was the advice of the Law Minister that made the collegium change its mind”. It pointed out that then Law Minister Ram Jethmalani recommended the judge, who was twice rejected by Supreme Court collegium. It turned out to be an embarrassment for Jethmalani, who was appearing for the petitioner who filed PIL. Jethmalani gave way to senior advocate Shanti Bhushan to continue arguments. The case against the judge related to an offence of rioting and disruption to public property in 1981. Then, Justice NV Ramana was a student of Nagarjuna University at Guntur. On May 8, 2000, the trial court declared him a “proclaimed absconder” but a month later he was appointed as a judge in Andhra Pradesh HC.
Warrants that got issued against him in December the same year went unanswered. On January 31, 2002, an order was passed by the then TDP government to withdraw prosecution in the above case. Bhushan pointed out that the CJI was apprised of these facts in a letter by the petitioner on January 8, 2012. No response was received till date. The bench directed the Supreme Court Secretary General to provide in a sealed cover “full and complete” records relating to the judge’s appointment and the action taken based on the January 8 letter. In addition, the court also directed Secretary General to produce records of the criminal case against the judge from the court of Additional Munsif, Guntur arising out of FIR No. 58/1981 registered at Mangalagiri police station.