Saturday, Oct 01, 2022

'Raises More Questions Than It Answers'

The Allahabad High Court's explanation for allegations against its Chief Justice favouring Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case attracts a rejoinder.

First came the allegation that Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court had passed an order favouring Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case days after he met her. Then came a "press note" from the registrar with an explanation. Now comes a rejoinder, sent to the Chief Justice of India

To, 8/10/10
Justice S.H. Kapadia 
Chief Justice of India
Supreme Court of India
New Delhi

Subject: Complaint against Justice F.I. Rebello, Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court

Dear Chief Justice,

In response to our complaint dated 23/9/10 against Justice F.I. Rebello, the Registrar General of the Allahabad High Court has issued a Press Note dated 27/9/10 to the effect that “a note was put up by the registry of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on 23rd July 2010 on the report of the Computer Section reporting huge pendency of PIL matters and to bifurcate such matters into categories (Civil and Criminal). This note was approved by the registry on 30/7/10.” The registry then proposed a formal note to this effect on 20/8/10 which was approved by the Chief Justice on the same day. The formal order was issued by the registry on 28/8/10. 

The explanation for the second clarification dated 31/8/10 to the effect that petitions challenging grant or non grant of prosecution sanction would be classified as criminal PILs is that on 23/8/10 a bench in a case of Pepsico sought a clarification from the Chief Justice as to how a case challenging a govt. notification in which the consequential relief is for quashing FIRs should be classified. The press note explains that the CJ directed that the matter be classified as PIL (Criminal) on 28/8/10 (though this was not a PIL at all). 

The Press Note goes on to explain that the meeting of the CM Ms. Mayawati with the CJ on 19/9/10 was only in response to the a courtesy call which had earlier been made by the CJ to the CM on 21/7/10. It further explains that the PIL against Ms. Mayawati had not been withdrawn from the bench headed by Justice Pradeep Kant which he says is still seized of the matter and had passed orders on it even on 23rd September which were reserved on 23rd August 2010.

Unfortunately, the Press Note is misleading and raises more questions than it answers. It is astounding that the Computer cell of the Lucknow bench should mention a huge pendency of PILs in Lucknow. We understand that the total pendency of PILs in Lucknow is less than 700 while the number of other pending cases is more than 16 Lakh, out of which many from various other categories have been pending for more than 30 years. Is it the normal function of the Computer cell to put up such notes about pendency? When has the computer cell done so in the past? And why not about other categories of cases where lakhs of cases are pending. And will the registry put up a note to the Chief Justice with such alacrity to bifurcate PILs into Civil and Criminal (an unprecedented event) without any prompting from anyone? The new fact in the Press Note about the prior meeting of Ms. Mayawati with the CJ on 21st July is therefore very significant. Within two days of this meeting, the Registry puts up this extraordinary note on which the CJ issues formal orders of bifurcation on 20th August, a day after his second meeting with Ms. Mayawati on 19th August. 

And even if we assume that these dates are just a coincidence, why does the CJ order the transfer of even part heard or tied up matters? This is not normally done. The explanation for the clarification of 31/8/10 (which affected only the case against Ms. Mayawati) is too stretched to be believable. What does the Pepsico case which was not even a PIL have to do with this clarification? And why should anyone clarify about the classification of cases where non grant of prosecution sanction has been challenged (of which kind only one case was pending) and not about the classification of cases seeking criminal investigation etc. (of which many cases are pending). Obviously these explanations are too facile to be believable.

About the case against Ms. Mayawati still being with the bench of Justice Kant, it may be pointed out that according to the administrative orders of 20/8/10 read with the clarification of 31/8/10, there is no doubt that the case would have been transferred to the newly designated bench headed by Justice Mateen which was to deal with Criminal PILs, unless some fresh order has subsequently been issued by the CJ. Justice Kant’s order of 23/9/10 in the case could only be delivered because it had been reserved on 23/8/10, before the administrative order of bifurcation of PILs was issued. Therefore it is totally incorrect and misleading to suggest that the case of Ms. Mayawati was not transferred by the order of 28/8/10 read with the clarification of 31/8/10.

In these circumstances, it appears that this is a disingenuous attempt to explain what appears to be a clear attempt to unjustifiably change the bench of this important part- heard case. I would request you to kindly go to the root of this and find out who in the computer cell put up what note and on whose instructions. On whose instructions did the registry of Lucknow put up the note on 23/7/10? Was any such note on other category of cases put up by the registry earlier? What was the justification for this note? I would be grateful if we are informed about the result of this complaint.

With warm regards,

On behalf of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms)

1. Copy of the Press note dated 27/9/10
2. Copy of the Order sheet of the Pepsico case
3. Copy of the order dated 23/9/10 in Ms. Mayawati’s case