Ex-CJI knew Raja was influencing Justice Reghupati: SC judge

Justice Gokhale claimed that ex-CJI had got Madras HC judge’s letter alleging interference by Raja.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2010, 00:16 AM IST

New Delhi/Ahmedabad: The controversy over
former Union Minister A Raja allegedly trying to influence a
Madras High Court judge in a criminal case returned to haunt
former CJI Justice K G Balakrishan today with a sitting judge
of the Supreme Court H L Gokhale flatly contradicting him.

Justice Balakrishnan, who last week had claimed that
the then Madras High Court Chief Justice Gokhale did not not
name Raja in his report to him, today found to his
embarrassment Justice Gokhale issuing a press statement
setting the record straight.

He was also evasive on questions why he did not
disclose the fact that Raja`s name figured in Justice
Gokhale`s report to him last year on the issue.

Justice Gokhale contradicted the former Chief Justice
of India`s claim that he had not not named Raja, who had
tried to influence a Madras High Court judge in a criminal
case, in his report based on Justice S Reghupati`s letter to
him.

Justice Gokhale said in his statement that in his
letter to Justice Balakrishnan last year he had clearly
referred to the name of Raja, who was accused of using a
lawyer-friend to convey a message that Justice Reghupati
should grant bail to an accused in CBI case.

"The former CJI has stated in his press conference
that in my letter I did not mention the name of any Union
Minister having talked to Justice Reghupathi over phone to
influence him.

"With respect to this statement I may point out that
Justice Reghupathi`s letter was already with him and in the
second paragraph thereof justice Reghupathi had specifically
mentioned the name of Raja.

"I had no personal knowledge about the incident and
observations in my reply wherein are in conformity with the
contents of Justice Reghupathi`s," Justice Gokhale said.

In the wake of Justice Gokhale`s statement totally
contradicting his claim, Justice Balakrishnan was evasive when
reporters in Ahmedabad questioned him on the controversy.
Changing his line of argument, Justice Balakrishnan
today said Justice Reghupati had not not written any letter to
him naming Raja.

"He (Justice Reghupati) had not not written to me as
Chief Justice of India. He had written a letter written to the
then Madras High Court Chief Justice (Gokhale)," the former
CJI said.

"You must understand I had said that Justice Reghupati
has not written to me as Chief Justice of India. He has
not written any letter to me. I was only saying (last
week) it is not not a letter written to me. Chief Justice
Gokhale is a good judge. He has sent a correct report,"
Justice Balakrishnan said.

Last week, Justice Balakrishnan had told a press
conference that "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."

Reacting to Justice Gokhale`s statement, Justice
Reghupati thanked him saying "everything has become true.
Absolutely correct. Majesty of law will prevail and truth
will prevail."

Asked why he did not take action on the issue when
he was a judge, Justice Reghupati said as a judge he was bound
to maintain dignity and decorum of the position.

"We are not expected to go to the media. Even at
that time I kept quiet," he told reporters adding he had put
everything in his letter to the Chief Justice of the Madras
High Court.

When asked for details, he said it was part of the
records and it was for media to get the letters from
authorities concerned.

"Everything has become true. Absolutely correct.
Majesty of law and truth will prevail," he said in reply to
questions.

Law Minister M Veerappa Moily refused to join issues
saying he was not in the know of things and he did not not
want to add to the confusion.

"It is between Justice Balakrishnan and Justice
Gokhale. I have nothing to say," he told reporters.

Eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan demanded a probe to
ascertain if Justice Gokhale had named Raja in his report to
Justice Balakrishnan.

Last week, the Madras High Court suspended from
the bar a top lawyer who was allegedly involved in an attempt
to influence a judge taking the name of Raja.

The lawyer, Chandramohan, had entered Justice
Reghupati`s chamber last year and pleaded that the case of a
father and a son, accused in a marks scandal case in
Puducherry, for anticipatory bail be considered favourably as
they were "family friends" of Raja.

The lawyer handed over his mobile phone to the judge,
saying that the "union minister is on the line to have a talk
with me".

"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," Justice Reghupati had said in his
letter of July 7, 2009 to the then Chief Justice of India.

Justice Reghupati, who has since retired, had in his
letter, complained about Chandramohan`s "outburst and
uncontrollable" behaviour.

-PTI