In an embarrassment to former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, Supreme Court Judge H L Gokhale on Tuesday contradicted his claim that he was not aware that it was former Union Telecom Minister A Raja, who had tried to influence a Madras high court judge in a criminal case.
In a statement, Justice Gokhale, who was the chief justice of the Madras high court at that time, said that in his letter to Justice Balakrishnan, the then CJI, he had clearly referred to the name of Raja.
Justice Gokhale's statement totally contradicts Justice Balakrishnan's claim that there was no mention of any Union minister in the report sent by Justice Gokhale, then high court chief justice, on Justice S Reghupathi episode.
"I regret to say that the allegations are absolutely incorrect," Balakrishan had said last week referring to news reports that he had suppressed a letter purportedly written by Justice Reghupathi to him when he was Chief Justice of India.
In a statement on Tuesday, Justice Gokhale said, "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.
Justice Reghupathi refuses to join Raja issue
Meanwhile, Justice Reghupathi thanked Gokhale for his statement on the controversy surrounding allegation that Raja tried to influence him in a criminal case. "I am thankful to Justice Gokhale," Reghupathi said, without elaborating.
"I am not supposed to react. I did not make the issue public even at the time of the incident since I wanted to uphold the dignity of the legal fraternity. It applies to me today even after retirement," he told PTI.
He refused to join issue with former CJI Balakrishnan, who had last week denied that Raja's name was in the report sent by Justice Gokhale.