By L Ravichander
Out there is the news that the second attempt to impeach Justice CV Nagarjuna Reddy has been aborted. The upright judge has had to go through for the second time the embarrassment of his integrity in the hands of politicians.
This is not so much about Justice Nagarjuna Reddy as it is about the independence of the judiciary. A judge of the court can only be removed by way of impeachment proceedings. The very initiation even if it fails in its tedious process would put the man in focus and inhibit his constitutional functioning. Some are less sensitive to such issues. Some are more. Nagarjuna belongs to the later. The constitution provides that a judge “by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two thirds of the members“ and the cause shall be “removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity”. The informed would know for a fact that it is not a case of incapacity and the inelegant abortive attempt is training false guns at proved misbehaviour”. The alleged misbehaviour is alleged harassment of a Dalit Junior Civil Judge.
This allegation will have to be viewed in the context of a writ petition filed by the said Civil Judge. When he made an attempt to implead the judge for the second time in a writ plea of his, a division bench of the High Court observed:
it became clear that the writ petitioner is more interested in keeping the writ petition and the issue raised therein burning and alive than in getting the writ petition finally decided in accordance with law.
The case of the complainant judge is that he is called upon to pay the price for refusing to remove the name of the kin from a dying declaration and his high integrity and commitment to the profession has led to his being harassed with a suspension. If he be genuinely hurt as alleged, one would wonder why he is doling out the same dosage to another. The High court in the course of the said case said: it is clear from the tabulation that we have given in the Annexure to this order that out of the several representations referred to by the writ petitioner in his Affidavit in support of the writ petition, only 3 representations contain allegations against the proposed respondent. All these allegations relate only to the proposed respondent allegedly pulling up the writ petitioner at his house on 13-02-2013 for lodging a criminal complaint against the subordinate court staff and harassing them. Dealing with the representation made by him against the judge the court finds: But this representation dated 14-02-2013 contains intrinsic evidence to show that it is a fabricated document. The High Court categorically ruled:
The first ever representation sent by the petitioner is dated 18-2-2013. In this representation there is no allegation that the proposed respondent ever called the writ petitioner to his house at Rayachoti and shouted at him for lodging criminal complaints against the subordinate staff. Realising this folly much later, the writ petitioner has chosen to file along with the writ petition, a cooked-up representation dated 14-2-2013 and suppress the representation dated 18-2-2013 in the affidavit as originally filed along with the writ petition.
Even dealing with the stated dying declaration which is the centre of the controversy the bench said Even according to the petitioner, the person who made the dying declaration had suffered 95% burns. It is not known whether such a person can ever be conscious so as to make a declaration.. The bench further points out : The letters “un” in the word “unconscious” and the word “not” before the words “in a fit condition” are scored off by hand. In other words, the Certificate given by the duty doctor to the effect that the patient was in an unconscious state and that he was not in a fit condition, has been tampered with in such a manner as to convey the opposite meaning.
The question that is to be addressed is whether the judicial functioning of a judge can be inhibited in the stated fact background through the political mill. Is that the purpose of the many layered constitutional protection not to a judge but the independence of the judiciary. Let us stop it lest it brings us peril. Twice attempted twice rejected. Will he be thrice presented the Lupercal which he would thrice refuse? Or should the system arrange itself to the safety of judicial independence.
For my two pence, this man is a judge of great quality. Even dealing with the crisis on hand, he displayed balance and class. He kept away from official duties when the first round happened and fortunately for the system the second round never took off. As stated before the entire issue raises the issue as to whether the entire legal system can be left to the numbers of the Parliamentarians. One may well argue that it goes through a judicial committee appointed by the CJI. What is lost sight of is the fact that in the intregnum, the judge is stalled from working at least on moral grounds as was the case with Justice Reddy. Another factor that shocks me is the deafening silence from the powers that be within the system. Paradoxically that is justice. Even for the Justice.