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Andhra Pradesh High Court Takes Suo Moto Revision Over Withdrawal Of Cases Against Chief Minister; State Objects

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
23 Jun 2021 11:57 AM GMT
Andhra Pradesh High Court Takes Suo Moto Revision Over Withdrawal Of Cases Against Chief Minister; State Objects
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In an extraordinary development, the Andhra Pradesh High Court took suo moto cognizance against the withdrawal of eleven criminal complaints against the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.The registry of the Court registered eleven suo moto criminal revision cases against the eleven orders passed by different Magistrates allowing the withdrawal of the criminal complaints against the...

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In an extraordinary development, the Andhra Pradesh High Court took suo moto cognizance against the withdrawal of eleven criminal complaints against the Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The registry of the Court registered eleven suo moto criminal revision cases against the eleven orders passed by different Magistrates allowing the withdrawal of the criminal complaints against the Chief Minister.

The Registrar Judicial had informed the state government of these suo moto cases yesterday. Today, the cases were listed before a single bench of Justice Lalitha Kanneganti.

State Objects to suo moto cases

Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Subrahmanyam Sriram, objected to the suo moto cases. He said that the suo moto cases, which are registered in purported exercise of powers under Sections 397, 401, 482 and 483 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, could not have been initiated by the High Court on its administrative side.

He pointed out that when the government lawyers sought information about the background of the suo moto cases from the Registrar General, they were informed that the cases were taken on the basis of a report of the administrative committee of the High Court. The copies of the reports of the administrative committee were not given to the government lawyers.

"It is unprecedented that the High Court in its administrative committee has decided to take suo moto cognizance. This is not a case where the High Court on its administrative side has placed the files before the bench and the bench has decided to take suo moto cognizance", the AG submitted.

"It appears the High Court on its administrative side registered the suo moto case itself. That is impermissible", he added.

The AG submitted that the powers under Sections 397, 401, 482 and 483 are judicial functions and hence the Registry could not have registered the suo-moto cases on the basis of a report of the administrative committee and then place the matter before the bench for judicial consideration.

Through the suo moto action, the AG said the "High Court has stepped into the shoes of the complainant, who was otherwise entitled to challenge the magistrate's orders. Complainant is not barred otherwise from approaching this court".

Necessary documents not given to the state

The next submission by the AG related to the Registrar not furnishing to the state the copies of the documents on the basis of which the suo moto cases were taken.

"This is a court of record under Article 215 of the Constitution. Therefore, the material on which the suo moto exercise has been taken, the file notings on the papers relied on by the administrative committee, the preparatory documents...all form part of the order. The administrative proceedings are not mentioned in the reference order passed by the Registrar Judicial. The Registrar has not mentioned any of the proceedings of the administrative committee", the AG submitted.

This has caused grave prejudice to the State as it is kept in darkness over the reasons and circumstances which weighed with the administrative committee while taking the suo moto cases.

The AG also mentioned that certain media channels conducted channel debates about the matter yesterday night, soon after the causelist was published, which amounted to a "media trial". Since the channel discussions were full-fledged and detailed discussions, it means that the TV channels got all necessary documents relating to the case, although the state was not given the copies of the same. The copies given to state do not have the information being played out in the media.

Further, the AG said that the media reports suggested that disciplinary actions were taken against some of the judicial officers. This means that the administrative committee has already prejudged the issue, even before a judicial determination.

"There appears to have been few decisions taken by the administrative committee which has resulted in disciplinary action in regard to few of these orders passed. The prejudice to the state is that the administrative committee has already ruled on the illegality of the proceedings, going by the media reports. If the administrative committee has already decided on the culpability of the procedure, and if it is true that judicial officers have been subjected to disciplinary proceedings, it means that the entire exercise on judicial side has been taken over by the administrative committee. This is an impermissible course for the High Court to undertake on the administrative side", the AG argued.

Suo moto action violates the Supreme Court's stay

Next, the AG told the bench that an earlier order passed by the High Court had made certain observations in relation to some of the criminal cases in question. That order, passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar(since retired) in December 2020, was stayed by the Supreme Court in February this year.

Therefore, when the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, the AG argued, the suo moto action is "in the teeth of the Supreme Court stay order".

The Advocate General also cited the Supreme Court precedents AR Antulay vs RS Nayak (1988) 2 SCC 602 and Renu and others vs District and Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari (2014) 14 SCC 50 on the scope of administrative powers of the High Court

The arguments will continue on Friday, June 25.


 



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