In an unprecedented order, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) High Court expressed its strong disapproval at the Supreme Court Collegium in relation to transfer of two Chief Justices while also castigating the YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led regime in the State for its apparent attempts to undermine the High Court.
A plea presented on behalf of the State government for the recusal of an AP High Court Judge was what led to scathing observations against the Andhra Pradesh government and orders for the registration of a complaint to initiate criminal prosecution.
The order also saw the Court taking exception to the manner in which the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the transfer two High Court Chief Justices – Justice RS Chauhan of Telangana High Court and Justice JK Maheshwari of Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The Court noted that transfer recommendations came immediately after Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy wrote a letter to CJI SA Bobde criticising the functioning of AP High Court. This meant the CM got what he wanted because the High Court was seized of the issue of speeding up criminal cases against MPs/ MLAs and a slew of such cases are pending against YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the Court said.
Justice Rakesh Kumar himself authored the lead judgment rejecting the application moved for his recusal in a case involving a challenge to the auction of State land.
While taking strong exception to the recusal plea moved by Additional Advocate General (AAG) Sudhakar Reddy, Justice Kumar did not hold back in accusing the government of interfering with the functioning of other Constitutional institutions.
“Firstly, attack was made on Legislative Council, thereafter another Constitutional body, i.e., State Election Commission; and, now the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and even the Supreme Court is under attack by persons, who are in power,” the judgment passed today read.
The delay in disposing of criminal cases against the Chief Minister was also criticised elaborately, with the Court commenting,
“Surprisingly, though cases are pending since 2011 and onwards, till date, in none of the cases, charges have been framed. Is it not a mockery with the system?”
In a brief concurring opinion, Justice D Ramesh observed, “the present situation has created a piquant situation, which would have been avoided had the State was given proper legal advice.”