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Ex-CJI denies getting any letter from Justice Reghupathi on Raja

Source: PTI
December 08, 2010 19:33 IST
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Rejecting allegations against him, K G Balakrishnan, the former Chief Justice of India on Wednesday said that there was no mention of any Union minister in the report sent by the chief justice of the Madras high court on the 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 the CJI.

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 the CJI that he had committed dereliction of duty.

Justice Balakrishnan, who is now National Human Rights Commission chairperson, at a hurriedly called press conference said, "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 the 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  Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh 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 CJI, he pointed out.

He said that Justice Reghupathi had written a letter to the chief justice of the 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 the Madras high court, not the CJI, he explained.

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

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 CJI, 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, Justice Balakrishnan said, "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."

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 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.

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