Andhra CM’s conduct “prima facie contumacious”, says AG but declines to give consent to initiate contempt proceedings

The Attorney General for India, KK Venugopal, Monday declined to give consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh YS Jaganmohan Reddy for his alleged contemptuous letter to the Chief Justice of India in which he cast aspersions on the integrity of Justice N V Ramana, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court.

Even though the conduct of the Chief Minister and his Principal Advisor Ajeya Kallam was prima facie contumacious, AG Venugopal pointed out that the entire case of contempt arose out of the Chief Minister’s letter to the CJI and a subsequent press conference by Kallam. The CJI is therefore seized of the matter, hence it would not be appropriate for him (Venugopal) to deal with it, the AG said.

Venugopal was responding to a plea filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking contempt proceedings against the two.

The AG also stated that the timing of the letter as well as its being placed in the public domain through a press conference could certainly be said to be suspect, especially in the background of the order by Justice Ramana on September 16, directing that pending prosecutions of elected representatives be taken up and disposed of expeditiously.

Also Read: A grave constitutional impropriety by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister

The consent of either the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is necessary under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, for initiating contempt proceedings against a person.

Earlier the Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Association (SCAORA), the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA), Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had slammed Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister for writing the accusatory letter to the CJI.

Chief Minister Reddy, who is facing multiple cases of corruption, had written to the CJI on October 6 alleging that Justice Ramana had been influencing the Andhra Pradesh High Court against his Government. The letter also cast aspersions on several sitting judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court including the Chief Justice of that High Court.

The letter came soon after a bench led by Justice Ramana directed that the trial of all MLA and MPs who are facing charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act be expedited.