Is BJP using AP CM to prevent NV Ramana as the next CJI?


(MS Shanker)

Has Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy gotten himself trapped into the ‘scheme of things’ of the BJP to prevent Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, to succeed as the next Chief Justice of India?

Last week Jaganmohan Reddy dashed off a seven-page letter accusing the senior most Supreme Court judge Ramana, who is  set to succeed as the next CJI, for trying to destabilize his government through his ‘friends’ in the AP High Court. He also alleges justice Ramana’s close proximity to his bête noir and predecessor Nara Chandrababu Naidu.  Incidentally, the YSRCP government headed by Jagan Reddy faced many reversals to their petitions by the state High Court, including new capitals issue.

Even before the CJI could respond, a Delhi-based lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhya, who is said to have BJP links, wrote a letter to the Attorney-General of India, Venugopal, seeking permission to file a contempt case against the AP CM as he cast aspersions against the judiciary.  He also threatened to file contempt case against AP CM, even if he fails to get consent from the AGI.

According to legal experts like Madabhushi Sridhar, former Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Faculty member of most prestigious Law University (NALSAR), it’s mandatory for any practicing lawyer to seek permission of the AGI to file contempt petition against any state head. In that backdrop, Sridhar felt, Kumar might have written that letter to the AGI.

Sridhar feels the issue now becomes a political one as the complainant is a CM belonging to YSCRP and his complaint is against the judge who has close links with former TDP CM Naidu, and the lawyer who sought permission or wanted the AGI to slap a contempt case against Jagan.

What does all this convey?  Has the BJP been using Jaganmohan Reddy’s shoulders to shoot the next CJI as they feel they may not be comfortable with him? Justice Rama will have more than a two and half service and may not be amenable?  Also, may prove advantageous for their erstwhile ally TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu to enhance his future bargaining power with the BJP?

What if the AGI files a complaint himself or accord permission to Ashwini Kumar to go ahead?  Certainly, the chances of Ramana succeeding as next CJI will become untenable.  As a result, another senior judge Rohington Nariman can succeed and the BJP will have absolutely no issues as he just left with three months office.  This will certainly result in next senior most VV Lalith who too got more than a year-and-half service left who is believed to have a soft-corner towards the BJP.

In that backdrop, like Dr Madabhushi Sridhar, many an Opposition member too see some ‘game plan’ of the BJP to which the YSRCP leader seems to have got trapped.  “Where is the doubt?” asks senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.  Naidu is known for planting his men during their 10 year rule in the erstwhile or undivided AP or later in the residual state.

“That’s why he managed to delay or get quashed all cases against him,” he pointed out. To drive home his point, he refers to how alleged cases pending against Justice Ramana were withdrawn by the goverment, no sooner he was sworn in as AP High Court judge.

Moreover, Naidu is also facing the ‘note for vote’ case pending in the Telangana High Court, which may explode any time. Interestingly, the AP CM’s decision to dash off letter also comes close on heels of his return from New Delhi after meeting the Prime Minister and other senior BJP functionaries.