news Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 05:30
The simmering tussle between the Kerala government and the judiciary in the last few days has now reached a boil. A disparaging remark by a Kerala High Court judge against the state’s Advocate General has now become a full blown controversy that threatens to culminate in contempt of court proceedings as more people jumped into the fray.   How it started   On July 23, Justice Alexander Thomas lashed out at Advocate General KP Dhandapani and his office saying that the court would not mind disbanding the entire office. Angry over the non-implementation of its directions in various matters, the High Court said: “Here we have 120 government pleaders and the majority of them are nominees of somebody, including abkaris (liquor contractors)... Even those at the top of the advocate general's office are nominees of somebody, including abkaris, and the present situation is due to this.”   Justice Thomas also criticized Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, saying said that if the government was inefficient, the cases should be handed over to private lawyers.   Chandy then takes on judge   The judge’s taunt that Kerala government should learn how to run an AG’s office from its Tamil Nadu counterpart has made Chandy see red. On July 24, Chandy lashed out at Thomas on the floor of the Assembly. He said that the judge should not forget the dignity of the position he holds in society. An angry Chandy also added that no one was born to a higher position and Justice Thomas should not forget his past.    KC Joseph jumps in   Amidst all this, Chandy loyalist and Minister for Culture KC Joseph lambasted the judge in a Facebook post. In an extremely sarcastic and condescending post, the minister compared the judge to a jackal which mistakenly thought that it was a King and was therefore howling. Both leaders seemed to be hinting at the fact that the judge was a government pleader once under the LDF government.   Chandy sticks to stand   Although the Opposition criticized Chandy’s remarks against the judge, the chief minister has stuck to it. In a departure from his normal demeanor, Chandy told the Assembly on Monday (July 27) that he sticks to his stand.   "I cannot be a mute spectator when one constitutional body asks another constitutional body to wind up.  I'm not a Chief Minister of that kind."   Petitions against KC Joseph   The latest development is a petition seeking sanction to initiate contempt of court charges against Joseph. In his petition, advocate J S Ajith Kumar has said that the minister’s statement “was willfully and deliberately intended to cast unfounded aspersions against the sitting judge of the High Court attributing personal motives to a judge who was discharging his official functions.”    Live Law reported that the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) has also petitioned the High Court seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the minister.   The controversial Advocate General of Kerala   Dandapani is no stranger to controversy. His appointment as AG in 2011 was challenged by his colleagues who raised doubts about his qualifications. But later, questions have also been raised over his position in various matters viz a vis the government.   During the Mullaperiyar dam issue hearings, he faced flak for contradicting the state's stand.   In 2014, Opposition had raised questions about the propriety of Dandapani’s position as AG when Dandapani Associates, a firm run by his wife and son, was acting as legal advisors to bar owners.   Justice Alexander Thomas is not the first one judge to criticise the AG’s office. Another judge had done it in 2013. The state Revenue Department too, had once openly told the court that it did not want any government pleaders to represent it.        

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