Justice UU Lalit of the Supreme Court on Monday recused himself from hearing petitions filed against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his government over a letter, accusing SC Justice NV Ramana and other High Court judges of attempting to topple his government. The judge said that he had difficulties hearing the petitions as he had represented one of the parties in the petition as a lawyer earlier.
Justice Lalit on Monday issued an order to list the petitions before a Supreme Court bench without him. "I have difficulty, I can't hear this matter. As a lawyer, I have represented parties in this matter in litigations. We will say 'list before a bench of which Lalit is not a partâ€™...We will direct the registry to seek appropriate instructions from the Chief Justice of India and list it before the appropriate court at the earliest," Live Law quoted Justice Lalit as saying.
The judge was hearing two petitions filed against the Andhra Pradesh government over a press conference by Jagan, where he announced that a letter had been sent to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde alleging that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was being used to "destabilise and topple my democratically elected government."
He had requested the CJI to look into the matter and consider initiating steps "as may be considered fit and proper to ensure that the state judiciary's neutrality is maintained".
The CM had alleged that senior Supreme Court judge NV Ramana had close ties to Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu and that a "former judge of the honourable Supreme Court placed this fact on record".
One of the petitions heard by Justice Lalit was filed by Advocate GS Mani, seeking that Jagan should be removed from office as he was misusing state power. The petitioner accused Jagan of making â€śfalse, vague, scandalised remarks and political allegationsâ€ť against a sitting Supreme Court judge openly in the public and to the media.
The petitioner reminded the court that the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has several criminal cases under various stages of investigation with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and claimed that the allegations were made to tarnish the courtâ€™s reputation for personal gain and motive.
The second petition filed, sought a show-cause notice to stop such press briefings by the sitting CM against judges. The petition was filed on behalf of Sunil Kumar Singh, a practising lawyer, by Mukthi Singh, an advocate.