Did not shield any minister: Former CJI

Facing criticism on the controversy surrounding former minister A Raja allegedly attempting to influence a Madras HC judge, former CJI KG Balakrishnan insisted the minister`s name was not mentioned by Justice HL Gokhale.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2010, 18:19 PM IST

New Delhi: Facing criticism on the
controversy surrounding former minister A Raja allegedly
attempting to influence a Madras High Court judge, former CJI
K G Balakrishnan on Wednesday insisted the minister`s name was
not mentioned by Justice H L Gokhale in his report.

Joining issue with sitting Supreme Court judge
Gokhale, who contradicted him yesterday, Balakrishnan issued a
statement today saying there was no question of suppressing
the report of the then Chief Justice of the Madras High Court
(Gokhale).

The former CJI, however, did not refer to the letter
written by Justice R Reghupathi, who was approached by a
lawyer taking the name of Raja for securing bail to an accused
in a criminal case, to Gokhale in which he had taken Raja`s
name.

The controversy has refused to die with Gokhale
yesterday issuing a statement flatly contradicting
Balakrishnan`s claim at a press conference last week that his
letter did not name Raja.

Gokhale pointed out that Reghupathi`s letter was
already with the CJI and in the second para of that letter,
the judge had specifically mentioned Raja`s name.

Today, Gokhale refused to comment on Balakrishnan`s
statement. "I have already made my statement," he said.

Balakrishnan said from news reports it appears that an
attempt was being made to create a wedge between high
institutions of judiciary and attach motives over the
allegations of a union minister having spoken to a judge to
influence his judicial function, which is unfortunate.

"I am issuing this statement only with the hope that
the facts will not be twisted and henceforth no motives will
be attached to the judiciary," he said.

Referring to Gokhale`s statement yesterday,
Balakrishnan contended that he had not said that the judge had
sent an incorrect or false report to him regarding the alleged
incident or suppressed any facts.

"I only stated that in the report given to me, no
mention was made of any minister having spoken to the judge of
the Madras High Court. In the report also no name of any
minister was mentioned," the former CJI said.

Balakrishnan said from the media reports subsequent to
the press release by Gokhale, "it appears that I suppressed
certain facts to save somebody. I never wanted to publish any
confidential letter received by me in my capacity as Chief
Justice of India."

But, he said, since the contents of the letter written
between him and Gokhale have been already made public, he was
constrained to quote from his personal file the full text
of the August 8, 2009 report sent by Gokhale as Chief Justice
of Madras High Courty to him as CJI.

Balakrishnan maintained that he did not receive any
letter from Reghupathi and he could go only on the basis of a
conclusive report of the Chief Justice of a High Court.

"And in this issue, as per the report of the Chief
Justice of the Madras High Court, there was no cogent ground
made out for a case against any union minister," he said.

The former CJI maintained that he would reiterate that
in any case if the judge concerned felt that anybody, be it a
union minister, tried to influence his judicial function, he
could have proceeded against him without seeking any direction
from the CJI or the High Court Chief Justice.

"All these matters were brought to the notice of the
Union Law Minister on August 18, 2009 in response to his
letter to me drawing reference to the memorandum submitted to
the Prime Minister by the MPs of different political parties.

"There was no question of suppressing the report of
the Chief Justice of Madras High Court," he said.

-PTI