Judicial Misconduct of AndhraPradesh Highcourt judge Shri L Narasimha Reddy sign now


Sub:- Writ Petition No. 1569 of 2011 in the High Court of Judicature of Andhra Pradesh - M. Narayan Reddy v. The Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs & Anr. - Judgment dated 23-03-2011 by Sri Justice L. Narasimha Reddy- Reg

Sir,

The conduct of the judge Sri L. Narasimha Reddy insofar as it concerns his hearing of the writ petition filed by the ex-M.P., Sri M. Narayana Reddy, of Nizamabad requesting the Court to direct the Home Ministry of India to reveal the secret Chapter 8 of the Sri Krishna Committee Report, which the august committee for their own reasons chose to keep confidential, immediately to him and general public is, to say the least, quite regrettable. The response of the Union Government, represented first by the Attorney General of India and later by the Assistant Solicitor General in the High Court of A.P., was also quite improper, and even a bit panicky. They failed to present the Governments position properly or defend the SKC efficiently at this hearing. This is all the more lamentable since the Sri Krishna Committee, though subjected to much adverse remarks by the parties and by the Judge even, was not made a party to the petition even at a later stage and was as if condemned ex-parte which is against all principles of natural justice. Especially since the SKC appears to be a necessary party by all means, assessing from the proceedings or even the judgment itself, the non-joinder of such a necessary and crucial party by itself is fatal to the writ petitioners case and the writ petition ought to have been dismissed in limine or at a later stage on the ground of non-joinder of a necessary party. At least the judge himself at a later stage ought to have suo motu added the SKC as a respondent and issued notice to it.

More objectionable, even disgusting, is the conduct of the Judge in revealing substantial parts of the so-called secret chapter though himself not giving any direction to immediately reveal the chapter to the public or declaring in the judgment itself that he himself decided to and hence was revealing it to the public, both courses which, though surely not that desirable, would all the same have been more honest and forthright courses for an upright judge. The giving of lengthy excerpts from the controversial report even before day one of the 15-day time limit fixed by the same judge for revelation of that chapter has begun only points to the fear/doubt complex in the mind of the judge that perhaps within that time a stay could be obtained against his judgment and so his own cherished cause in that context would not benefit but irreparably suffer. This clearly reveals the bias of the Judge which was evident from the day one of the hearing.

The whole world knows this bias of this particular judge, and if he introspects he himself could not and would not deny that. Last year in February, issuing a temporary injunction barring the police from erecting barriers within Osmania University campus, he made some uncharitable observations, as per press reports which are not controverted to this day, to the extent that the police were treating Telangana as Pakistan and the OU campus as the Wagah border; that there were several Dyers among police, that the state government was not able to control them and that even Bihar Police were better since they would obey some agency; and that he wished Amnesty International to step in. In the current judgment, he likened the situation to use of force against people in Libya, with which there is no parallel at all since all of us including the judge knows that we are living in and enjoying a reasonably democratic setup and overlooked the fact that common people in Hyderabad are at the receiving end of forced bandh calls and acts of arson by agitators in the name of movement for a separate state. It is sad that such outpourings, which are not expected from the aggrieved petitioners of the said petitions even, are being vented by the learned judge who is supposed to refrain from any unsavory comments and be strictly impartial during hearing. While one can appreciate his concern for protecting the democratic rights of few agitating students, his silence over injury to the democratic rights of rest of all other students who are worried about losing their precious academic year, over disruption of right to life and livelihood of thousands of other people in the city, over frequent acts of destruction of public and private property pains us very much. We feel he gravely exceeded his brief and status by making uncharitable remarks against Justice Sri Krishna, a former Supreme Court judge, allegedly for projecting certain non-existing things in the 'secret' Chapter 8 of the report on law & Order, and regretting that it was unfortunate that the report and its related exercise was presided over by a former judge of the Supreme Court. The judge seems to have forgot the axiomatic dictum that "Justice should not only be done, but also seem to be done."

In this context, it was proper and necessary for him to have rescued himself from hearing the said writ petition right from the start. Failing that, he should have at least stuck to the ordinary and mandatory principles of fair dealing and strict keeping of confidentiality in connection with secret official records furnished to him (in sealed covers) only because of his august office and the faith in his rectitude. The Judge takes an oath of office to the extent that he/she will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, will duly and faithfully and to the best of ability, knowledge and judgment perform the duties of office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that will uphold the Constitution and the laws (Article 219 and Schedule 3: VIII of the Constitution of India). And to be true to the oath he should respect the sanctity and necessity of official secrets insofar as the finality of judgment about the need or desirability of their revelation has not been conclusively made. Otherwise another Judge may for different reasons compromise and wittingly or unwittingly reveal state secrets relating to grave military, defence and nuclear developments even, may be in perfect good faith and for high ideals, but in fact endangering the security and integrity of the nation seriously. As such the action of the Judge Sri L. Narasimha Reddy in citing substantial excerpts in his judgment from the confidential chapter of the SKC Report is in effect a deliberate violation of his oath of office.

Further, The Sri Krishna Committee had every right to keep any of its recommendations or parts of report confidential while submitting the report to the Home Ministry. And even in its main report the SKC never opted for the fifth option of separate Telangana, so to put it. It added some riders to that course which indicated the impracticability or undesirability in the Committee's opinion of that demand. The only clear suggestion which it made, the option which it favoured, is the sixth option i.e. maintaining and promoting the unity of the State with creation of a [constitutionally sanctioned] statutorily empowered Regional Council for autonomy and for assuaging the sentiments of misguided people from Telangana. It is not for the Courts to interfere and say things in such complicated socio-political issues but it is for the legislatures and the people outside the legislatures to say, act and decide. So the best course is for the Home Ministry to lay the SKC report, including the confidential chapter or excluding it as it thinks fit, before the floor of the Parliament for discussion and, in case of controversy, refer the Report in entirety to a JPC, etc. Or other forms of political consultations and processes can also be resorted to.

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Katelyn PetersonBy:
Culture and SocietyIn:
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The Chief Justice of India

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