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Chief of the Supreme Court Bar Association Dushyant Dave- The New Indian Express




Express News Service

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s letter to India’s Chief Justice SA Bobde not only needs to be considered but also gives the judiciary an opportunity to set up a mechanism to address questions raised against the conduct of judges,’s lawyer senior and president of the High Court Bar Association Dushyant Dave tells Kanu Sarda.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has claimed that the daughters of Justice NV Ramana are involved in controversial land deals over the Amaravati capital project due to which Justice Ramana is interfering in the functioning of Andhra Pradesh high court . Do you think it is possible?

First, I can not guarantee the veracity or otherwise of the contents of the CM letter to the Chief Justice of India. But saying that I must say that if one constitutional authority makes a formal complaint against another such authority, which contains even such serious allegations, should be considered.

The alleged cases can easily be verified by an independent person who can be appointed by the Chief Justice. Second, the judiciary owes it to the nation to prove that the contents of the letter are false. It should show that it is transparent and not opaque, as generally perceived by many people.

The judiciary is the ultimate defender of the Constitution of India and the fundamental rights of citizens. To do it so well, she has to be strong and independent and that is in her own hands. If it fails, democracy fails. There is an opinion that Jagan wrote the letter because a High Court court run by Justice Ramana is hearing a case involving MPs and MLAs involved in criminal cases and Jagan is also charged.

Do you think there is a connection between his letter and the issue?

I can not speculate about the purpose of writing such a letter. It is undoubtedly more extraordinary that such a letter be written in the first place. This has never happened in the history of India. I am sure that CM being a smart politician and leader of the state had good reasons to take such a step. He must have been forced to do so after much thought. Yes, there are cases pending against him and the bench headed by Justice Ramana has passed orders affecting those cases. Alsoshtë also a matter of public recognition that former CM N Chandrababu Naidu has good reasons to regain power in the AP.

In your opinion, what should be the next step of the CJI, should it convene a full court meeting to review the letter or should it set up a commission of inquiry?

I think the CJI is a very responsible and sound leader of the country’s judiciary and he is capable of taking a wise and proper course in this matter. I would not like to speculate on his movements, except to say that he would be well advised of the best interests of the nation and the very integrity and independence of this great institution, the Supreme Court of India, for him to act in a right and proper way and do not put the matter in silence or just clear it aside.

What do you think needs to be changed in the current system of appointing judges? The current controversy claims favoritism from a senior judge over other judges.

I am completely against the collegial system for the appointment of judges in the SC and the high courts. I feel that since the SC removed that power in 1992-3 in appointing judges, the judiciary has faced more challenges in administering justice than ever before.

The system many times has not been able to appoint the best of those available, simply appointing seniority, judges who were no longer deserving and were not very independent. The executive has the last word even today in these appointments. What is needed is a tough independent authority to make such appointments, which again is a distant dream in the foreseeable future.

Is there a need for more transparency in the appointment system? Why is the Supreme Court not approving the memorandum of procedure? My previous answer addresses this question. What do you think is stopping the Supreme Court from establishing a proper grievance redressal system?

The judiciary is a very unique institution. Constantly wants and reminds the nation and all its authorities about transparency and accountability. But when it comes to himself, he is the darkest and most irresponsible body. No one knows about the internal functioning of the system administratively. It is shrouded in mystery, including the appointment of judges to high courts and the SC.

The latest case involving sexual harassment allegations against former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and the way in which SC fired her and removed the lady from service and then reinstated her after the new CJI took over has caused shock across nation.

Similarly, former Prime Minister Arunachal Pradesh notes the suicide of Kalikho Pul by appointing two former chief prosecutors, JS Keher and Dipak Misra, and the way his widow’s complaint was left under the carpet leaves much to be desired while Sushant’s suicide Singh Rajput gives the court the justification to order a CBI investigation.

No, the system has no room to question the personal conduct of higher court judges, much less to investigate against them. And I have no doubt it will not be decided for a long, long time. Jagan’s letter offers the judiciary an opportunity to immediately set up such a mechanism and to appease all citizens that judges are also under the law.

Many are asking Jagan about going public with his letter to Chief Justice SA Bobde. Do you think it was inappropriate for the PM to disclose the confidential letter?

Yes, I obviously feel that CM should have kept the letter a secret. But then even if he had done so, the media would put everything in the public domain so it would have appeared in public anyway eventually.

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