SC dismisses plea against Andhra HC judge

Asserting a need to protect the judiciary and judges from unwarranted attacks, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a PIL to quash the appointment of a sitting Andhra Pradesh High Court judge for allegedly suppressing information about pendency of a criminal case against him at the time of his elevation to the constitutional post.

"It is indeed very important to uphold the 'institutional integrity' of the court system... but it is equally important to protect the court from uncalled for attacks and the individual judges from unjust infliction of injuries," held a Bench led by Justice Aftab Alam.

The Bench also imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 each on the two advocates who had moved the PIL. It noted that their petition was "not a sincere and honest endeavour to correct something which the petitioners truly perceive to be wrong but the real intent of this petition is to malign" the judge and show him in "bad light."

The PIL had sought directives to set aside the elevation of Justice N V Ramana as a High Court Judge in 2000. It alleged that when Justice Ramana was a student of Nagarjuna University in Guntur, he was named as an accused in a case relating to rioting and disruption of public property in 1981.

He was allegedly declared a proclaimed offender for not responding to the summons by a Guntur trial court just a month before he was appointed as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh HC. On December 2, 2000, the trial court issued warrants against the HC judge, the petitioner claimed.

The PIL claimed that the entire consultative process was flawed since this fact was not considered at the time of recommendation and hence Justice Ramana had no right to hold the office. The petitioner also cited the case of CVC P J Thomas, whose appointment was quashed by the SC on the ground of concealment of material fact regarding pendency of a criminal case against him.

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