SC declines to stay AP HC order on probe into phone conversation of ex-judge


New Delhi: SC declines to stay AP HC order on the probe into phone conversation of ex-judge. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to stay the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directing a probe into the allegations of a telephonic conversation between one of its former judges and a suspended trial court magistrate.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, and M.R. Shah asked former judge Justice V. Eswaraiah to file an affidavit on the conversation and the transcript of the same. “Learned counsel for the petitioner does not dispute the conversation. He prays that he be permitted to file an affidavit of the petitioner with regard to the above conversation. Let the affidavit be filed,” the bench said in its order. The top court posted the matter for further hearing on January 18.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing Justice Eswaraiah, argued before the bench that how could a private conversation become a subject of inquiry even if it is about a Supreme Court judge? Bhushan insisted that the High Court passed the order without hearing his client.

“Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submits that the transcription of the talk between the petitioner with Ramakrishna dated 20.07.2020 is filed as Annexure P16,” said the bench. Justice Eswaraiah admitted that it is his private conversation and does not disclose any crime and sought a stay on the inquiry.

Bhushan submitted before the bench that the conversation took place, but the transcript is a bit incorrect. Then, the top court asked Bhushan to file the correct transcript. “let us see what you have stated about this conversation and what does your affidavit say,” noted the bench.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing an intervenor Mellam Bhagya Rao, national general secretary of the Dalit Bahujan Front, sought a notice be issued on the intervention application and there is nothing private about this conversation. Sibal said “This is a motivated attack on the system. What is private about this conversation?”

Senior advocate Harish Salve and advocate Vipin Nair, representing another intervenor advocate P. Samuel John, said the applicant is troubled by a continuous attack against Andhra Pradesh’s judicial institutions.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered the inquiry on the basis that the conversation discloses an attempt to denigrate and destabilize the Supreme Court and the High Court. The alleged conversation merely contained some references to the misconduct of a Supreme Court judge and the Andhra Pradesh Chief Justice. According to the plea filed by Justice Eswaraiah, the conversation was recorded by the suspended district music magistrate, brought before the High Court in an intervention in an unrelated PIL, and thereafter the conversation was released to the media by the suspended magistrate himself.

According to the plea, the phone conversation purportedly pertained to the corruption allegations in the Amaravati land scam. The High Court had requested former Supreme Court judge Justice R.V. Raveendran to inquire into the matter.



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