Senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, convenor, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), has created a flutter in India's top judicial echelons by charging an Andhra Pradesh High Court judge of allegedly committing atrocities against members of the Dalit community.
Bhushan has made the allegation in a letter to chief justice of India TS Thakur, which he had written on August 30, 2016. The letter was made public by Bhushan on Tuesday evening. While Bhushan says that he was releasing the letter because no action has been taken so far, he does not say why India's chief justice, if at all, did not act.
The most serious charge leveled by Bhushan concerns a case of how the dying declaration made by the servant of the brother of the judge was sought to be removed from the records. In this declaration, the servant had disclosed the entire story of how he was doused with kerosine and set on fire for not agreeing to sign on a blank paper.
The dying declaration, says Bhushan, was handed over by the Duty Medical Officer, Government Area Hospital, Rayachoty, to the then magistrate, Rama Krishna, Rayachoty, Kadappa District. Krishna belongs to the Dalit community.
Earlier, on August 10, 2016, eight Members of Parliament (MPs) had written a similar letter to the Chief Justice of India detailing alleged “atrocities” against Krishna. Kadappa district is the native place of the High Court judge, whose brother is the additional public prosecutor at Rayachoti courts.
Asking Thakur to initiate In House proceedings against the Andhra Pradesh high court judge after fully examining the case, Bhushan says, such judges “undermine popular confidence in the administration of justice.”
Attaching the copy of the dying declaration and other documents, some of them obtained through the right to information (RTI) channel, Bhushan says, when Krishna refused to accede to the demand to remove the dying declaration, “an altercation occurred” between the judge and the Krishna.
Krishna, says Bhushan, has alleged that during the altercation, the judge “kicked him with his shoes and abused his caste.” While Krishna lodged a police complaint, the police refused to lodge an FIR against the judge.
This made Krishna go to the High Court Vigilance Registrar and gave a written complaint, stating and naming various officers of court at Rayachoty, who are allgedly performing “illegal” acts, misplacing court records and making files disappear. Yet, “no action was taken by the High Court on the said complaint”, says Bhushan.
Krishna, says Bhushan, filed another complaint with the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, after which an affidavit was sent to the chief justice of India seeking their intervention.
Meanwhile, Krishna was transferred to Chintapalli, Vishakapatnam district, and thereafter, based on an anonymous complaint of corruption, was placed under suspension, says Bhushan.
He further says, the High Court in its inquiry report decided to drop the proceeding and also to revoke the suspension order and reinstate him into service, the revocation order was “never implemented” and the “suspension order with fresh charges of misconduct was issued” against Krishna.
Bhushan in his letter also refers to a local NGO Gadikot Dalitha Nyayaporata Committee, coming up with a pamphlet enumerating various instances of atrocity against the Dalit community by the family of the High Court judge in Rayachoty.
Bhushan quotes the pamphlet as alleging that the judge's brother has taken over land belonging to the Dalit community and barred the entrance to the land with a big iron gate so the real owners of the land do not have access to it.