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Andhra Pradesh HC judge gets warm send-off after judgment attacking CM

Amaravati farmers and women gave a warm send-off to Andhra Pradesh High Court judge Justice Rakesh Kumar, who retired on Thursday, a day after delivering a judgment with a sharp attack on Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Large number of farmers gathered on Seed Access road when Rakesh Kumar was returning from the High Court and bid adieu to him with folded hands. They thanked him for standing by the farmers of Amaravati region fighting against the proposal to trifurcate the state capital.

Farmers displayed placard with slogan 'Long live Justice Rakesh Kumar'. He stopped his car to thank farmers for their send-off and had a chat with some of them.

A division bench comprising Justice Kumar and Justice D. Ramesh on Wednesday rejected a prayer for recusal of Justice Kumar from hearing petitions filed against the proposed sale of government lands in Guntur and Visakhapatnam districts under "Mission Build AP" and posted the batch of writ petitions to the second week of February 2021.

The court also passed an order initiating criminal prosecution against Mission Build AP Director and senior IAS officer Pravin Kumar for submitting a false affidavit which amounted to perjury.

"If such petitions are entertained, it will amount to allowing the party for hunting the Bench. Such an action by the State was not expected, but in this State, as I have observed the circumstances herein above, everything can be possible. However, at the same time, the Court cannot be frightened by any such action of the State," Justice Kumar observed.

The court issued notices to Pravin Kumar asking why action should not be taken against him for contempt of court for trying to interfere in the discharge of judicial functions of high court with false allegations.

Justice Kumar felt that bureaucrats of Andhra Pradesh have been emboldened after Chief Minister addressed a letter to the Chief Justice of India -- and made it public -- with allegations against a senior Supreme Court judge, the Chief Justice of the AP High Court and number of sitting Judges of AP High Court with their names.

He also observed that the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court is "under attack" by those in power.

The judge also made a scathing observation that the recent transfer of the Chief Justices of the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana may delay proceedings in the three capitals case and the CBI cases pending against the Chief Minister, giving him an "undue advantage".

"We are not aware as to whether any contempt proceeding for such an action (Jagan's letter to CJI) has been taken or not by the Chief Justice of India. But, it is a fact that recommendation has been made on December 14 by the Collegium of Supreme Court for transfer/appointment of Chief Justices, which includes transfer of Chief Justice of AP High Court to the Sikkim High Court and transfer of the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court to the Uttarakhand High Court. Whether by this act of sending an unceremonious letter to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh will get final relief or not but fact remains that he succeeded in getting undue advantage at the present moment.

"People may draw an inference as if after the so called letter of Chief Minister, the two Chief Justices, i.e., the Chief Justice of High Court for the State of Telangana and the Chief Justice of High Court of AP have been transferred. By the said transfer, naturally, the cases pending in the Court of Special Judge for CBI cases in Hyderabad against Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and others may be delayed and monitoring by the Supreme Court in W.P (Civil) No.699 of 2016 may hamper for the time being," he observed.

Jagan Mohan Reddy had dashed off a letter to Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde in October, alleging that the state High Court was being used to "destabilise and topple" his democratically elected government.

Weeks after this, Andhra Pradesh High Court's Chief Justice J.K. Maheshwari was transferred to the Sikkim High Court.

Rakesh Kumar also called for transparency in the SC Collegium orders. "I am not raising any question on the transfer of Chief Justices, either of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh or of the High Court for the State of Telangana, but, at the same time, I am constrained to observe that transfer of High Court Judges or its Chief Justices may reflect some transparency and for betterment or upliftment of the administration of justice. After all, they are also holding Constitutional posts like members of Supreme Court Collegium," he observed.

Rakesh Kumar also attacked Jagan Mohan Reddy, saying he got "very disturbing" information about him. He stated that he Googled to know about the cases against the Chief Minister. "Till the publication of the letter of 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 'Qaidi No 6093', I can get information. Accordingly, I did the same thing and thereafter I got very disturbing information," he observed.

He also mentioned how the police filed closure reports in more than seven cases pending against the Chief Minister, a day after the Supreme Court passed a judgment to fast-track cases against legislators. He said the present Chief Minister is accused in more than 30 cases, of which 10 are registered by the CBI in which charge sheets have been filed long ago.

Justice Kumar also attached several articles about the CBI cases against the Chief Minister to his order, and gave details of all the CBI and Enforcement Directorate cases against him.

Justice Kumar took charge as the Andhra Pradesh High Court judge on November 8, 2019. Before being transferred here, he was serving as the judge of the Patna High Court, and had then alleged instances of corruption in higher judiciary. His statement was taken notice of by the Supreme Court Collegium, and he was subsequently shifted to Andhra Pradesh High Court.

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