Executive Vs Judiciary in AP: Big reason to worry
It is disconcerting that differences between the executive and the judiciary have emerged in Andhra Pradesh
It is disconcerting that differences between the executive and the judiciary have emerged in Andhra Pradesh. Perhaps Andhra Pradesh has achieved the distinction of being the first state to lodge a complaint to the Chief Justice of India alleging that a judge of the apex court who is said to be the next in line for the post of Chief Justice was interfering in the judicial processes of the AP High Court.
In 2019, we had seen Justice Rang Nath Pandey of the Allahabad High Court writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging "nepotism and casteism" in the collegium system for appointment of judges. There were also allegations that the selection of judges to both the High Courts and the Supreme Court is done in closed chambers "and over cups of tea" based on lobbying and favouritism. The names of future judges, he said, are made public only once the entire process has been completed.
We had also seen former Supreme Court Judge Jasti Chelmeswar saying that every government makes attempts at controlling judiciary. In India and abroad, governments like a tailor-made judicial system, but some are subtle and sophisticated about it. Chelameswar had even led the unprecedented press conference by four Supreme Court judges against the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra alleging that the top court was problematic — multiple benches in the Supreme Court created uncertainty in law.
But never was executive's profound dissatisfaction with judiciary so evident as it is now in Andhra Pradesh. Though there has been criticism of judgements, never did any government allege that a particular judge (in this case N V Ramana), was interfering in the matters of High Court.
The AP government seems to be unhappy with the spate of recent decisions of the High Court which had gone against them and the comments made by the judges during the hearing on many contentious issues. It feels that all the welfare measures it wanted to implement were being stalled by the High Court.
What seems to have irked them most is the landing of the issue of the investigation into the alleged inside trading in Amaravati and scrapping of CRDA sometime back in the High Court and the stay into the probe against the alleged perpetrators of the scam including Dammalapati Srinivasa Rao, former Advocate General and the orders issued by the High Court staying coverage of the same in media.
While it is highly debatable whether such issues should have been raised in public, the executive too needs to ponder over the reasons as to why the High Court had given judgements in certain PILs against the government? Are the courts on the wrong side or is there any flaw in the way certain decisions were taken by the political executive?
The government also needs to answer whether it was proper for some people holding constitutional posts to make comments against the judges of the High Court. It had also not taken any action against those who posted objectionable comments against judges on social media forcing the High Court to take it up as suo motto case.
It is time the Supreme Court took a serious view of the allegations made by the Andhra Pradesh government and cleared the air or else it could affect the faith of the common man in judiciary. A touch of pragmatism is what the judiciary and the executive need at this juncture.