Attorney General K K Venugopal had declined consent to initiate contempt proceedings on the grounds that the Chief Justice of India was seized of the matter.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy wearing a white shirtFile Photo
news Court Thursday, November 05, 2020 - 18:31

BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay on Thursday urged Attorney General K K Venugopal to reconsider his decision declining consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his Principal Advisor Ajeya Kallam for making serious allegations against a few judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court. Taking the consent of the law officer is a condition precedent for initiating criminal contempt against a person.

The top law officer, on November 2, had termed as "prima facie contumacious" the conduct of Chief Minister Jagan and Ajeya Kallam for making allegations against the judiciary, but had declined consent to Upadhyay to initiate contempt against them on the grounds that Chief Justice of India S A Bobde was seized of the matter.

In an unprecedented move, Chief Minister Jagan on October 6 had written to the CJI alleging that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was being used to "destabilise and topple my democratically elected government".

Venugopal had examined the issue and the plea of Upadhyay and said that the fact of writing of a letter by Jagan to the CJI and subsequent press conference by Ajeya Kallam to make its contents public raised suspicion.

"In this background, prima facie, the conduct of the said persons is contumacious. However, what has to be noted is that the entire case of contempt arises out of the letter..written by the Chief Minister directly to the Chief Justice of India and the subsequent press conference held by Kallam. The CJI is therefore seized of the matter. Hence, it would not be appropriate for me to deal with the matter," Venugopal had said.

Urging a relook on the decision, Upadhyay said, "I humbly request you to peruse these points (particularly the fact that the question of contempt is not pending anywhere else) and kindly reconsider the granting of consent to my request.

"This is an issue of great importance at a time when our judiciary continues to be besieged by attacks, and a strong stand needs to be taken by those of us who are a part of the institution," the lawyer said.

He said the Chief Minister's letter to the CJI of October 6 was sent after two days and "this was a private missive with scurrilous contents. At this stage, it was left to the CJI alone to determine whether it constituted contempt".

"But, once Kallam on Reddy's behalf called a press conference, read out a separate statement and released the letter to the media and public on October 10, it ceased to be a private matter, and there was also an additional actor and an additional statement made."

Upadhyay said the CJI is seized of the letter of the Chief Minister levelling allegations against some judges, but the contempt against Reddy was not pending with him.

"It is unclear how the fact that Reddy's complaint pending with the Chief Justice can preclude my right to initiate criminal contempt against him and Kallam. Even if such were the case, consent could be granted by you, and my petition would be tagged for hearing" the lawyer said.

Earlier, Upadhyay had written to Venugopal seeking his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against Jagan and his advisor.

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