New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh high court on Monday struck back at the allegations levelled by the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government that there is a bias in the judiciary, asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe into the ‘abusive’ and ‘threatening’ posts made on social media.
The court observed that persons holding high positions have initiated a ‘war’ against the judicial system, saying such actions will “create unnecessary doubt in the mind of citizens” about the judiciary, which, they said, “may cripple the entire system”.
The court took suo motu cognizance in April this year of the “abusive, life-threatening and intimidating postings” on social media against the judges of the high court. On Monday, it asked the CBI to examine whether the attacks on the judiciary were made as a result of a “larger conspiracy” and, if so, take appropriate action against the culprits, “irrespective of the post and position”.
The high court noted that “the postings were made to bring hatred, contempt, incite disaffection and ill-will against the high court and Hon’ble judges”. The bench, comprising Justices Rakesh Kumar and J. Uma Devi on Monday directed the CBI to submit a report in a sealed cover in eight weeks.
It posted the case to December 14 for further hearing.
Curiously, though the bench mentioned statements made by the speaker of the Andhra Pradesh assembly and deputy chief minister and other functionaries of the ruling YSR Congress party, it did not mention the letter sent by chief minister Jagan to the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde. In the letter, the CM accused Supreme Court judge N.V. Ramana of political bias and corruption.
He said Justice Ramana used his influence with the previous N. Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government in the state to favour his daughters.
“Sri Justice N.V Ramana has been influencing the sittings of the High Court including the roster of a few Honourable Judges and instances of how matters important to Telugu Desam Party have been allocated to a few Honourable Judges…,” Jagan alleged.
‘Targeting the judges’
The Andhra Pradesh high court noted on Monday that the speaker of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly and deputy chief minister had not restrained themselves in making ‘scathing remarks’ against the judiciary.
“Member of Rajya Sabha, namely, Vijayasai Reddy, has joined together in a move to make scathing remarks against the high court.”
The court said that comments which target judges, made by “key personnel who are occupying posts of prominence, authoritative and constitutional in nature”, had severely affected the reputation of the judiciary as an independent institution.
“Thus, it appears that a concerted effort has been made to malign the institution, having larger conspiracy,” it noted.
It also named YSRC MP (Lok Sabha) Nandigam Suresh, former MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan, standing counsel for the AP assembly Metta Chandrasekhar Rao and others in the case and found fault with the CID that no proper action, as mandated under the Code of Criminal Procedure, has been taken against the accused till date.
“Since the month of April 2020, this court has noticed that a new trend has developed in the state of Andhra Pradesh to abuse the high court and its judges on different sites of social media and even in the interviews given to the electronic media. It appears that the petitioner (HC) is being attacked by some corner with some oblique motive,” the bench said.
It observed that the additional director general of police (CID), CID SP (Cyber Crime Cell) and the station house officer of CID Cyber Crime Police Station were “absolutely lackadaisical, casual and averse to act promptly and swiftly against those social media users/posters/tweeters who are taking pride in attacking the judiciary and who are visible on every day basis for the prosecution to take notice”.
“The persons occupying high posts are indulging in waging war against the judicial system in the state, oblivious to the fact that even their entity existed since there is a democratic system in our country.”
“In a democratic state, if such a war is initiated against the judicial system by persons holding high positions, certainly it will create unnecessary doubt in the mind of citizens against the judicial system, which may cripple the entire system,” the bench remarked.
Maintaining that the judiciary requires broader protection since the “judges cant fight back”, the bench said: “Shielding judges from criticism serves an important public interest of protection of judicial independence. Protective standards ensure a smooth administration of justice.”
It directed the state government, through its chief secretary and director general of police, to ensure full cooperation and assistance to the CBI and provide all logistical help, if asked.
(With PTI inputs)