The truth should come out. What did the Chief Justice of India do when a High Court Judge was threatened by a Minister?
Balakrishnan: I did not receive any letter from Regupathi when I was CJI
FROM THE HINDU
NEW DELHI: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman K.G. Balakrishnan on Wednesday denied reports in a section of the media that the former Madras High Court Judge, Justice R. Reghupathi, had written to him when he was the Chief Justice of India (CJI) alleging that the former Union Telecom Minister, A. Raja, had tried to influence him. Justice Balakrishnan also denied that he had suppressed that letter.
“Such reports cast aspersions on me, that I had committed dereliction of duty… The allegations are absolutely incorrect,” he said in a statement here. Justice Balakrishnan made it clear that he had not received any such letter or communication directly from Justice Reghupathi while he was in office.
Gokhale’s report sought
When the media reported the incident, at that time Justice Balakrishnan sought a report from the then Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, H.L. Gokhale, and the latter sent him a report wherein nothing was mentioned about the name of any Union Minister having talked over phone with Justice Reghupathi to influence him. “Therefore, there was no occasion for me to talk to the Prime Minister or to take any further action.”
Justice Balakrishnan said he had disclosed these facts at the relevant time. “Moreover, if anything happened like that, which amounted to interference in the judicial function of Justice Reghupathi, he himself could have exercised his powers of contempt of court for which no permission is required from the CJI.”
‘Facts can be verified’
“It appeared that Justice Reghupathi made a statement that he reported the matter to the Chief Justice and he certainly meant the [then] Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and not the CJI,” Justice Balakrishnan said, adding that these facts may be verified.
The letter, which was written to him by Justice Gokhale, might be available in the office of the present Chief Justice, Justice Balakrishnan said.
Regupathi says he did mark a copy to CJI
Mohamed Imranullah S.IN THE HINDU
MADURAI: The former Madras High Court judge, R. Regupathi, on Wednesday said that he had written a letter on July 2, 2009 to the then Chief Justice of the High Court, regarding the attempt to influence him in an anticipatory bail case, with a “specific endorsement to forward the copy to the [then] Chief Justice of India” (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan.
Speaking to The Hindu on the phone, Justice Regupathi said he did not make sure whether the letter reached the CJI or not because “if I had followed it up closely, people would have attributed motives against me. In fact, I avoided meeting the CJI after that even though he had come to the judicial academy in Chennai and I too visited the Supreme Court to meet my lawyer friends.”
He gave two reasons for not initiating suo motu contempt proceedings against the individuals concerned. “Firstly, the issue was so big and the person involved was the Chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu. If I had initiated contempt, then I would have been holding my own brief. At times, judges may also commit mistakes. So I was careful in not dealing with the issue myself. Secondly, I thought it appropriate that some other judge should hear the matter. Therefore, I passed a judicial order requesting the Chief Justice of the High Court to transfer the case to another Bench. Coupled with it, I also addressed a letter to him on the administrative side. Being a sensitive issue, I was very careful and I am still sure I made the right decision,” he said.
“Once a judge delivers a judgment, he becomes ‘ functus officio’ [having performed his office]. Therefore, I made my decision that the matter should be handled my some other judge and put down everything in writing to the head of the institution and left the matter at that. “Having been a criminal lawyer for nearly 30 years, I know that this was the right way to deal with such issues,” he added.
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