Balakrishnan rejects allegations in Justice Reghupathi episode

Rejecting allegations against him, former Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on Wednesday said that there was no mention of any Union Minister in the report sent by the Chief Justice of Madras HC on Justice Reghupathi episode.

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2010, 19:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Rejecting allegations against
him, former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Wednesday said
that there was no mention of any Union Minister in the report
sent by the Chief Justice of Madras High Court on Justice
Reghupathi episode.

"I regret to say that the allegations are absolutely
incorrect," he said referring to news reports that he had
suppressed a letter purportedly written by Justice S
Reghupathi to him when he was Chief Justice of India.
The news reports have alleged that he had suppressed
that letter which had purportedly alleged that the then
Telecom Minister A Raja had tried to influence Justice
Reghupathi which cast aspersion on him (CJI) that he had
committed dereliction of duty.

Justice Balakrishnan, who is now NHRC chairperson, at a
hurriedly called press conference said that "I had not
received any such letter or communication from Justice
Reghupathi while I was in office.

"When this incident was reported in the media, I sought
for a report from the then Chief Justice of Madras High Court
Justice Gokhale and he sent me a report wherein nothing was
mentioned about any Union Minister having made a telephonic
talk with Justice Reghupathi to influence him," he said.

Therefore, the former CJI said, there was no occasion
for him to talk to the Prime Minister or to take any further
action.

Justice Balakrishnan said that he disclosed "these
facts" about the episode "at the relevant time".

Moreover, if anything amounting to interference in the
judicial function of Justice Reghupathi had happened, he could
himself have exercised his powers of contempt of court, for
which no permission was required from the Chief Justice of
India, he pointed out.
He said that Justice Reghupathi had written a letter
to the Chief Justice of Madras High Court, and not to him.

It appears that Justice Reghupathi, by making a
statement that he reported the matter to the Chief Justice,
"certainly" meant the Chief Justice of Madras High Court, not
the Chief Justice of India, he explained.

"These facts may be verified," Justice Balkrishnan
said.

The former CJI said that Justice Gokhale sent him a
"one page brief report" about the episode.

The letter written to him by Justice Gokhale wherein
there was no mention of any Union Minister, "may be" available
in the office of the present Chief Justice of India, he added.

When asked whether Raja`s name was mentioned in the
report of Justice Gokhale, he said, "No, it was not there. At
that, I am certain it was not there."

Asked whether it was mentioned in the Justice Gokhle`s
report that any Union Minister tried to influence the Judge,
he said, "Unless that letter is before me, can`t say."

When insisted, he said, "I couldn`t recall what are
the...I can only say that the name of any Union Minister
having any telephonic talk with the Judge was never made. That
was the gist of the letter."

"No Union Minister`s name was mentioned in the letter.
This is only probably what Mr Reghupathi narrated to him
(Justice Gokhale) was reported to me," he said.

To a question whether he has the copy of Justice
Reghupathi`s letter, he said, "I understand that all the
papers with the registry of the Madras High Court were called
for by Justice Khalifullah and are kept in the Madras High
Court."

It would have been a serious matter if any Union
Minister had telephonically contacted a Judge for "whatever
reason", Justice Balakrishnan said, replying to a question in
this regard.
Justice Reghupathy said he had written a letter to the
Chief Justice of the Madras High Court requesting that the
copy of his report may be forwarded to the then Chief Justice
Of India(Justice Balakrishnan).

"What had happened in the court hall, I have placed
everything on paper. Beyond that I do not want to make any
comments," he told reporters in Chennai.

Asked whether he was under any sort of pressure,
political or judicial, not to take names, Justice Reghupathy
said he was not at all amenable to pressure and certainly
there was no pressure at that time.

PTI