Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Reddy letter's timing suspect, but no contempt action: AG

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Monday held the timing of Andhra Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's letter to Chief Justice S.A. Bobde making allegations against Justice N.V. Ramana, and making it public through a press meet, "suspect" but declined to give consent for initiating contempt proceedings against him.

Responding to a letter filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyaya seeking contempt proceedings against Reddy, the AG said: "I am of the opinion that the timing of the letter, as well as its being placed in the public domain through a press conference could certainly be said to be suspect, in the background of the order passed by Justice Ramana dated September 16, directing pending prosecutions of elected representatives to be taken up and disposed expeditiously."

Pointing out that there are 31 criminal cases pending against the Chief Minister, he said: "In this background, prima facie, the conduct of the said persons is contumacious."

However, declining to initiate contempt action against Reddy, the AG said Reddy wrote a letter directly to the Chief Justice on October 6 and the subsequent press conference was held by the Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister.

"The Chief Justice of India is therefore seized of the matter. Hence, it would not be appropriate for me to deal with the matter. For these reasons, I decline consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India," said the AG in the response.

Upadhyay had sought to initiation of contempt proceedings against the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, stating that the letter written by him "scandalises" the authority of both the Supreme Court and the High Court.

The AG said that that he has carefully gone through the contents of Upadhyay's plea and found "objectionable statements" have been made in the October 6 letter.

Upadhyaya, in the plea, also contended that Reddy has interfered 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 favour and this trend would soon spell the death knell of an independent judiciary," he said.

In an unprecedented move, the Chief Minister had written to the Chief Justice, alleging that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was being used to destabilise and topple the democratically elected government, and sought the Chief Justice's intervention into the matter. He urged the Chief Justice to consider initiating steps "as may be considered fit and proper to ensure that the state judiciary's neutrality is maintained".


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