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Andhra HC Vs Ex-Judge- Asking For Materials Regarding Conduct Of A Sitting Judge Cannot Be Said To Be A Conspiracy: Justice Eswaraiah Tells Supreme Court

Mehal Jain
17 Jan 2021 3:53 PM GMT
Andhra HC Vs Ex-Judge- Asking For Materials Regarding Conduct Of A Sitting Judge Cannot Be Said To Be A Conspiracy: Justice Eswaraiah Tells Supreme Court
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"Asking for Material, if available, regarding the conduct of a sitting judge, which was the subject matter of investigation, cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to be a conspiracy", retired Andhra Prdesh High Court judge Justice V. Eswaraiah has submitted before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had last Monday required Justice Eswaraiah to file an affidavit regarding...

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"Asking for Material, if available, regarding the conduct of a sitting judge, which was the subject matter of investigation, cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to be a conspiracy", retired Andhra Prdesh High Court judge Justice V. Eswaraiah has submitted before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had last Monday required Justice Eswaraiah to file an affidavit regarding alleged private phone conversation with Mr. S. Ramakrishna, a suspended District Munsif Magistrate of Andhra Pradesh, into which an inquiry has been ordered by the High Court. After it was alleged that the phone call disclosed a "serious conspiracy" against the High Court Chief Justice and a senior sitting Judge of the Supreme Court, the Andhra Pradesh High directed an investigation by a retired Supreme Court judge into it, against which order Justice Eswaraiah has moved the top court.

In his affidavit, through advocate Prashant Bhushan, he, however, admits that the suspended District Munsif Magistrate had called him over WhatsApp on 20th of July, 2020, but that he does not know from which phone number he had called. He also denies the contention that he had, through his PA, required the said Magistrate to call him.

"I cannot say that the conversation as contained in the pen drive is the exact conversation. The voice appears to be mine and therefore, that part of what I have purported to have said appears to be correct. It is, however, possible that some parts of the conversation that took place have been edited out. Therefore, the conversation as contained in the pen drive may not be the conversation that took place with me to the extent that it is called. It would be pertinent to state here that since WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted and it does not have a recording feature, as such the recording by the suspended District Munsif magistrate of the WhatsApp audio conversation had to be through an external device, which is not a primary source and can be easily distorted using technology as has been done by Mr. Ramakrishna", the former judge has said.

He continues to assert that even the English transcription of the audio conversation as contained in the pen drive filed by Mr S. Ramakrishna before the High Court is incorrect, that it has been deliberately distorted to give a false and misleading impression with regard to the conversation. "I have provided a correct transcript of the English translation of the audio tape contained in the pen drive supplied to me", he states.

He has advanced that the conversation as he recalls with the District Munsif Magistrate was threefold: Firstly, he had sought information about the latter's suspension. Secondly, he had consoled and cajoled him for the harassment he had faced. Lastly, he had sought information from him about the Benami transactions regarding the new capital region in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which according to Justice Eswaraiah's information has been the subject matter of a Cabinet Sub-committee which recommended the formation of a SIT and subsequently, the government of Andhra Pradesh wrote to the Union of India for this investigation to be transferred to the CBI since it involved inter-state investigation and several high-ranking influential persons.

"The relatives of a senior sitting Supreme Court judge were involved in these transactions. This was information that I had received and was trying to collect more evidence with regard to it. However, subsequent to my conversation, this has become the subject of FIR, naming the two daughters of the sitting Supreme Court judge and a SLP. I have come in public in various press conferences to expose the misconduct of the Supreme Court judge for his special proximity with the erstwhile government of Andhra Pradesh. This has been stated on record in the SLP as well", submits the petitioner.

He admits that he did seek information and material from Mr Ramakrishna in that phone conversation with regard to Benami transactions involving the CRDA in Andhra Pradesh on the involvement of the relatives of the said Supreme Court judge.

"The allegations of 'conspiracy' and 'plot' are totally false and far from the truth. I have always endeavoured and continue to endeavour to protect and preserve the independence of the judiciary. These allegations are white lies and derogatory and defamatory. I am not part of any such 'conspiracy' or 'plot' and have the highest regard for the institution of the judiciary and all the judges", he asserts.

"This order was made on the basis of the applications for reopening and intervention filed by the suspended District Munsif Magistrate who had recorded the conversation, in an unrelated PIL before the High Court. The PIL was filed by an independent organisation, which has nothing to do with me. Further the order for enquiry into the conversation involving the petitioner was made by the High Court on the basis of the intervention without allowing the impleadment of the petitioner and without notice to the petitioner", it is urged.

It is argued that the impugned order directing an enquiry, into a pen drive purportedly containing a distorted WhatsApp conversation, which is secretly recorded, in a writ petition in which the petitioner is neither party nor was afforded an opportunity of being heard, is against the basic principles of law, apart from being violative of his right to privacy which is held to be a fundamental right protected under Articles 21 and 19(1)(a).

"How can a private conversation be enquired into by the High Court? I fail to see what crime has been committed even if the conversation revolves around some misconduct by the Supreme Court judge and the High Court Chief Justice?...It is not a crime to discuss (an issue) ", Mr Bhushan had pleaded on Monday.


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