SC vets Andhra High Court judge elevation despite ‘criminal case’

FP

The Supreme Court Friday agreed to examine the appointment of a Andhra Pradesh High Court judge, whose elevation has been challenged in a PIL for allegedly suppressing information about a criminal case pending against him at the time he was named to the post.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai also sought Attorney General G E Vahanvati's assistance in the matter and asked him to fetch all documents related to the appointment of Justice N V Ramana as a high court judge in 2000.

During the hearing, the court also took note that Ramana was appointed on the advice of the then law minister Ram Jethmalani, who was now appearing for the PIL petitioner in the case and was seeking quashing of his elevation.

"Mr Jethmalani, you have an illustrious career spreading over several decades. You had held number of posts and conducted several cases about which you are also not aware. In this case, the collegium had twice rejected the name of this particular judge but it was at the instance of the then law minister that the appointment was made," the bench told Jethmalani.

Jethmalani responded that if some wrong has been done, it can be undone too. "Your lordships are trying to say I was the law minister at that time. Your lordship can suggest me what can be done to undo it," he said.

The court posted the matter asking the AG to assist the court on the next date and adduce documents relating to the Ramana's appointment in a sealed cover. It also directed the Guntur district court to file on the status and other details of the case, reportedly going on against the judge.

The PIL, filed by M Manohar Reddy, had been argued by senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan and Jethmalani on the last hearing as well. They had submitted that the facts of the case were unprecedented and requested the court to initiate steps on the administrative side against Ramana and convince him to quit the post.

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