India’s Supreme Court is generally considered impartial, but it has been subject to public scrutiny recently, especially after the court punished a senior lawyer for contempt. The court in its judgement said, “The foundation of the judiciary is the trust and the confidence of the people in its ability to deliver fearless and impartial justice.”
In an unprecedented move, an Indian state chief has complained to the Chief Justice of the country that an Indian Supreme Court judge has been influencing politically sensitive matters in his state.
In a letter, the Minister Chief of Andhra Pradesh, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, alleged that a sitting Supreme Court justice was biased in favour of the opposition party in the state, the Telugu Desam Party, and expressed hope that the the Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court take steps to ensure that the “State Judiciary’s neutrality is maintained”.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy Writes to Chief Justice SA Bobde alleging that Justice N. V. Ramana is trying to influence the course of administration of justice in the State pic.twitter.com/TUgzyYQxMW
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) October 10, 2020
Reddy cited certain judgements in of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, which allegedly “demonstrates the nexus of Shri Justice V.N. Ramana, TDP and a few Honourable Judges of the High Court.”
Justice N.V. Ramana is next in the line to be Chief Justice of India. Reddy pointed out that Justice Ramana was earlier the “legal advisor and Additional Advocate General in the past advising the government run by the TDP (Telugu Desam Party)”.
In his eight-page letter, the head of the state alleged that Justice Ramana’s proximity to TDP leader and former Chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, as well as referenced an investigation into “questionable transactions of land” involving two daughters of Justice Ramana during Naidu’s tenure.
Reddy’s YSR Congress Party defeated the earlier government headed by Naidu in elections held in May, 2019.
There was no parallel in recent history in India, when the head of a state has openly directed accusations at a Supreme Court justice.
A judge of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from the office except by an order of the President passed after an address in each house of Parliament, supported by not less than two-thirds of members present and voting.