Telangana High Court Censures Retired Judge for ‘False and Motivated’ Allegations

The Telangana High Court on May 18 pulled up retired Justice P Swaroop Reddy of the Hyderabad High Court. The Court criticized him for levelling allegations against sitting Justice MS Ramachandra Rao. Justice Reddy is the Chairman of the Telangana Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (TAFRC). He sought Justice Rao’s recusal from hearing a batch of petitions challenging a Telangana government order. The order had fixed the fee for PG Medical Courses on the advice of the TAFRC.

In his memo, the Chairman accused the sitting Judge of prejudice on various counts. This included prejudice against the state, people, Chief Minister, and Telangana itself. In addition, he contended that writ petitions stand beyond Justice Rao’s roster.

The fee hike petition had initially been placed before a single Judge. However, he had transferred it to a two-Judge Division Bench. After the Chief Justice agreed that it was an urgent matter, the petition was placed before the Bench of Justice Rao and Justice K Lakshman. This was the only Bench hearing cases during the lockdown.

On taking the matter up for hearing, the Court sought detailed reasoning from TAFRC as to why it recommended a hike between 118% to 154% in the fees. The State contended that the matter was not of an urgent nature. However, the Court decided to treat it as urgent and gave the TAFRC a day’s time to respond.

The Memo

Justice Reddy claimed in his memo that he had met Justice Rao at a dinner party hosted by a former Judge where he criticised “Telangana people, its Chief Minister and the state and also a sitting judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court“. He also said that a contempt case had been started by Justice Rao against him in his capacity as the TAFRC Chairman. However, that never went anywhere.

Justice Reddy added that Justice Rao had previously passed unfavourable judgements against the state, and passed unwarranted comments against the TAFRC.

Court’s Response

The Division Bench recused from hearing the matter, not on account of there being any merit in the allegations, but owing to the matter being vitiated by Justice Reddy’s allegations. The Court said:

“…On account of the antics of the Chairman of the TAFRC the whole atmosphere has got vitiated, and since we do not wish to behave like him, while strongly denying each and every allegation leveled against one of us (MSRJ), we do not intend to take any action for contempt and we close all issues arising out of the Memo. We accordingly decline to initiate any proceedings for contempt, and recuse from hearing the matter and release the matter.”

On the question of passing unfavourable judgements, the Bench informed that those judgements held up before larger Benches. Thus, the orders were legally reasonable and sound, not prejudicial. The Court had also closed Justice Reddy’s contempt case two years ago. The Chairman ‘conveniently‘ left out this fact.

Furthermore, the Court termed the dinner party mentioned by Justice Reddy a ‘figment of imagination‘. Justice Rao remembers neither going to any such party nor talking to Justice Reddy there. Further, the Court pointed out that some orders will always go against some party. It mentioned that Justice Rao had passed orders in favour of the government as well in the past.

The Court stated that both judges on the Bench are persons born and raised in Telangana; have lived in the region for over 50 years. It refutes any allegations of prejudice against the State.

Contempt of Court

The Bench termed words used in the Memo submitted by Justice Reddy ‘unbecoming’ and said they ‘go beyond all levels of propriety’. The Court, relying on the recent Supreme Court judgement in Re: Vijay Kurle and Ors; held that the memo by the TAFRC Chairman falls in the category of interference of administration of justice. It prima facie amounts to criminal contempt. These attempts, the Court added, could also be viewed as Bench hunting.

However, the Bench expressed their confidence in the people and lawyers of the state of Telangana to know of the credibility of the two judges. Thus, the Court refrained from initiating contempt proceedings against Justice Reddy.

Budhaditya Ghosh
Budhaditya Ghosh
Budhaditya is not the sort of guy you would take to be anyone extraordinary at first glance - he looks like your typical, desperate-for-a-girlfriend, bad-joke-cracking teenager, but worse. However, third-party accounts suggest that beneath this rough exterior lies a powerful mind. An aspiring lawyer with a good understanding of various social matters and a nose for current affairs, you can be assured that you will find intelligence and dedication lurking in his articles. He is, as of 2020, studying in the 12th standard and preparing for his CLAT, which he knows for sure he'll bomb.

CONTINUE READING

The case of Aruna Shanbaug that changed the Euthanasia laws...

0
It is my Belief that death is a friend to whom we should be grateful, for it frees us from the manifold ills which are our lot - Mahatma Gandhi. As human beings, out the umpteen desires that we have, one of them is definitely to have a peaceful death....

Justice D Y Chandrachud’s path-breaking Verdict in the Sabarimala Case of...

0
“Will the quest for equality and fraternity be denuded of its content where women continue to be treated as children of a lesser god in exercising their liberties in matters of belief, faith and worship? Will the pursuit of individual dignity be capable of being achieved if we deny...

After repealing section 377, its time to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage in...

0
A draconian, archaic law that criminalized homosexuality was struck down in a historic judgment given by the Supreme Court in 2018. Two years after the judgment, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community has now sought legal recognition of their relationships. As the social stigmas surrounding the LGBTQ...

Modern Day Book Burning a.k.a Internet Shutdowns

0
The internet has become an indispensable element in our society for all the obvious reasons. For the majority of users, not a single day goes by where we don't 'need' the internet and the lack of a reliable and fast connection can feel paralyzing. An internet shutdown refers to...

Letter to UNHRC – Dr Kafeel Khan, Punished Because He’s Muslim

0
Kafeel Khan, a doctor by profession and a social activist has been targeted by Yogi Government since 2017, in 3 years he had been maliciously arrested 3 times & imprisoned for around 14 months on the false charges set up against him at many instances. Now he is absolved...

Prison Life In India and its Aftermath

0
Everyone prays to never see the bars of prison in their lifetime. Yet, as fickle as life is, it is quite hard to predict the future. It is in everyone’s benefit to know a little bit about prison life; for movies and cinemas do not do justice to the...