Disclosure puts ex-CJI Balakrishnan in spot

December 09, 2010
J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

By identifying A Raja as the former Union Minister who tried to influence Justice R Reghupathy to grant bail to father-and-son duo in a criminal case, the Madras High Court on Tuesday put former Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan in a spot.

The Pioneer was the first to report on July 1, 2009 that Raja was the person who had tried to put pressure on the judge to grant bail to one Dr C Krishnamurthy and his son.

After The Pioneer expose, the entire Opposition demanded Raja’s resignation and intervention of the Prime Minister. But all of a sudden, after four days, on July 5, 2010, Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan in an interview to an English daily declared that "No Minister had called the Judge" and termed the incident as a mischief by the advocate.

"No Minister had called the judge. That is my information. It seems that one lawyer claimed that some Minister was interested in the case. Then the judge told the lawyer that he was not interested in knowing if any Minister was interested or not," Balakrishnan had said.

But, it is a fact that Balakrishnan was in receipt of Justice Reghupathy’s letter of July 2, 2009, in which he had clearly identified Raja as the Union Minister who had tried to influence him through advocate RK Chandramohan. Raja may not have spoken to Justice Reghupathy, but it is clear he tried to dictate terms to him through advocate Chandramohan.

This is evident from the following passage of Reghupathy’s letter to Balakrishnan: "To start with, he (Chandramohan) discussed about the general subject on advocates and proceeding he said two persons who are father and son/accused in a criminal case are family friends of a Union Minister by name A Raja and that the petition filed by them for anticipatory bail must be considered favourably."

The emphasis on word "must" shows that Chandramohan, a close friend of Raja, was not merely making a request by directing the judge on behalf of Raja.

Balakrishnan had reiterated the same statement after a month in a press conference also and termed the incident "as a closed chapter."

Incidentally, around the same time, the Supreme Court stayed the order of the Central Information Commission for publication of Justice Reghupathy’s letter to Balakrishnan about the incident. The CIC had ordered to publish the letter on a petition filed by RTI activist Subash Chandra Agrawal. But in a rare intervention, the Supreme Court stayed order of CIC and referred the matter to a Constitution Bench, which is yet to settle the case.

Meanwhile, reacting to Madras High Court disclosure, Balakrishnan said on Tuesday evening

he did not receive any complaint from Justice Reghupathy alleging that a Union Minister interfered with his judicial function.

The former CJI also said that if anything happened like that he himself could have exercised his powers of contempt of court for which no permission is required from the Chief Justice of India.

The controversial Nira Radia tape also talk about the clean chit given by Balakrishnan to Raja. On July 7, 2009, just two days after Balakrishnan absolved Raja in the media interview, Radia referred the episode to Ratan Tata.

"Yeah, I met Raja today. I went to see him today and he is alright. He is a happy man.

The Chief Justice has given his clearance on him and he’s happy. He’s really happy with that," says Radia to Tata.

The Pioneer had extensively reported about the close relations between Raja and bail applicant Krishnamurthy. Raja’s law office in his home town Peramballor was housed in a building owned by Krishnamurthy. Raja’s two nieces R Sanathanalakshmi and R Anandabhuvaneswari and his nephew R Sridhar, have 15 per cent shares each in a real estate company Kovai Sheltors Promoters Ltd in which Krishnamurthy is the Managing Director.

Krishnamurthy and his son were charged by CBI for manipulating the MBBS exam of Pondichery University. A University employee, the whistleblower of the mark-list scam was found murdered and the section of the University where answer papers were kept burnt.

The father and son were absconding after the chargesheet and had applied for bail in Reghupathy’s court.

Counsel cannot be allowed to succeed in snatching an order in his favour by advancing threat, says Judge

Source: http://www.hindu.com

CHENNAI: This is the letter dated July 2, 2009 written by R. Regupathi, the then Judge of the Madras High Court, to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court containing the relevant part where there is a specific reference to R.K. Chandramohan.

"On 12.06.2009, at about 2 p.m. during Lunch Recess, while I was in the Chamber, High Court, Madras, my Office Assistant, Mr. Mujibur Ali, informed me that Mr. Chandramohan, Chairman, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, is waiting and seeking for an appointment to meet me and, immediately, I allowed him to come in. To start with, he discussed about the general subject on Advocates and so proceeding, he said that two persons, who are father and son/accused in a criminal case, are family friends of a Union Minister by name Raja, and that the petition filed by them for anticipatory bail must be considered favourably. Simultaneously, he handed over his mobile phone by saying that the Union Minister is on the line to have a talk with me. Right away, I discouraged such conduct of Mr. Chandramohan and told him that the case would be disposed of in accordance with law, if listed before me.

"Subsequently, on 29.06.2009, second anticipatory bail petition came to be filed for the same accused and on behalf of Mr. Chandramohan (counsel on record for the petitioners/accused), who was present in the court, Mr. Masood, Advocate, argued by stating that some new points need to be submitted and, for such purpose, the Case Diary must be summoned. Adverting to the counter filed by the prosecution and referring to the view I had already taken during the previous occasion and pointing out that there was no change of circumstance to positively consider the case of the petitioners, it was conveyed that there was no valid reason or ground to grant the prayer in the 2 {+n} {+d} petition. It was also observed that the counsel may argue the case in detail, however, this time orders would be passed on merits and they would not be allowed to withdraw the petition.

"Again, the counsel insisted that the case diary must be called for and the case be heard in detail with reference to the materials collected during the course of investigation. I have impressed upon the representing counsel by explicating that a like direction could be given to the prosecution only in the event of the Judge satisfying that such course is inevitable and absolutely necessary in a given situation and that, on mere demands and as a matter of routine, such exercise cannot be undertaken. At that time, Mr. Chandramohan stood up and made a similar demand and when I emphatically declined to accede to his adamant demand, he vociferously remarked that the court is always taking sides with the prosecution and not accepting the submissions made by the counsel for the accused while giving importance to the Prosecutor.

"On such pointless remark, I said that the counsel engaged to argue on his behalf has made his submission and he is not supposed to pass such slanderous and derogatory remarks; for, all these days, the court has been passing orders after hearing the parties and assessing the cases on their own merits and in accordance with law. In spite of that, Mr. Chandramohan insisted that the Case Diary must be summoned and the matter be adjourned to some other day. Since Mr. Chandramohan highly raised his voice and his approach towards the court was quarrelsome, I told him that a person like him, an advocate holding position as Chairman of a State Bar Council, should not behave in such a fashion. Still the learned Advocate was outburst and uncontrollable, and I observed that a counsel, who made an attempt to exert influence on the court by using the name of a Cabinet Minister, cannot be allowed to succeed in snatching an order in his favour by advancing threat. Due to such odd experience, I had to direct the Registry to place the papers before Your Lordship for obtaining orders to post the case before some other learned Judge.

"The case concerned was taken up at the end in the afternoon and inside the court hall, there were about 4 to 5 Advocates present and no one from the Press was there. That being so, the oral observations actually made came to be translated by the Print and Electronic Media with their own interpretations and ideas .......

"I have written this letter/report to apprise Your Lordship the actual state of affairs Involved."

‘Why was judiciary mum on Raja threat’

December 09, 2010
Kestur Vasuki | Bangalore
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

The BJP has slammed former Union Telecom Minister A Raja for his alleged threat to a Madras High Court judge in a bid to influence his decision in a case involving people supposedly close to the Minister.

Talking to the media on Tuesday, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said, "Allegations against A Raja raises serious questions. This is a serious matter. I think the nation is entitled to know the truth and to know the full truth. How can a Minister have the audacity to contact a judge?"

Jaitley was here along with party chief Nitin Gadkari and Karnataka in-charge, Dharmendra Pradhan to asses state Chief Minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa Government’s performance in view of the forthcoming local body elections.

He wondered why the judiciary had covered up the matter for long. "Why were facts concealed for one year?" Jaitley asked. He further said it was not a matter of private communication. "There should not have been any secrecy at all in this matter," said the senior leader.

Jaitley noted, "The media raised the issue, the Opposition raised the issue in Parliament. Somehow, it got the lead today. I think it is a serious matter. It reflects on the functioning of this Government. The concealment of this issue over a year raises several issues on why the judicial institution did not make all these matter public, so that action could have been taken. I think the nation should know the full truth."

With this revelation, DMK leader A Raja, who is mired in the 2G spectrum scam, is in more trouble, with the Madras High Court judge referring to him by name.

Now, a land scam in TN

December 09, 2010
PNS | Chennai
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

Beneficiaries include sitting and retired judges, IGP, Congress MLA
An RTI query into the allotment of prime land and flats under the Tamil Nadu Housing Board scheme has unravelled another land scam where the discretionary quota, which is 15 per cent reserved, was misused for favours to people in high offices, including judges, MLAs and bureaucrats.

Some of these beneficiaries were given plots under the ‘unblemished Government Servant (UGS) quota, especially in 2008. Most of the beneficiaries are those who were close to the ruling DMK Government.

Among those allotted prime land is sitting judge of Madras High Court Justice R Bhanumathi (two adjoining plots), who, according to her disclosure of assets, already had a house in her name and a plot in her husband’s name.

Retired judge of MHC Justice K Raviraja Pandian, who was allotted land while he already owned 50 per cent share in his ancestral house, was another beneficiary.

A classic case is that of IGP Intelligence, Jaffar Sait, who received land under the UGS scheme. He got the land in his daughter’s name and transferred it to his wife Parvin’s name. A multi-storey complex has been commissioned on this plot.

Another person to receive a plot worth Rs 60 lakh was the former Regional Passport Officer Sumathi Ravichandran, who was arrested last April on graft charges. Sumathi already owned a plot and that should have disqualified her for a plot under TNHB.

In another case, a former district collector G Prakash, issued a UGS certificate for himself!

One of the reasons for the misuse has been the use of old rules and guidelines, as old as 2001, to allot the plots and flats. The rules were relaxed in 2001 to boost the sale of properties and to offload stocks.

But since 2005, the real estate market boomed and it peaked in 2008 when the market rates were more than three times that of 2001. Ironically, all the violations happened during this peak period.

The relaxation of the rules took place during the AIADMK Government. But when the DMK took over in 2006, the real estate market was already looking up and in fact soared to unbelievable limits in 2007-08. The situation was such that middle class people were finding it difficult to even take a flat on rent at a decent rate.

As the skeletons are tumbling out, the DMK, which is already reeling under the 2G spectrum scam and the Radia tapes, will find it harder and harder to face the people. But, corruption is no new issue to the State. Tamil Nadu had in 1996 given a clear mandate against corruption. How the citizens of the State react to the current scenario will be known in the coming months.