Justice P S Narayana of the Andhra Pradesh high court on Friday issued contempt notices to Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president Dr K Keshava Rao for their ‘derogatory’ comments following an order that the judge had passed during the recent panchayat raj elections.
The two leaders have been given 10 days’ time to respond to the notices.
The judge initiated contempt proceedings suo motu against the chief minister and the PCC president on the basis of a letter written by G Rama Rao, a resident of Dwarakanagar in Khammam district, enclosing press clippings where certain adverse comments attributed to Dr Reddy and Keshava Rao appeared.
Finding their critical comments to be prima facie contemptuous, the judge observed that anybody with any grievance or objection and disagreeing with the judgment could have taken recourse to an appeal rather than criticise the court in the media.
Justice Narayana, in his order for issue of notices dictated in the open court on Friday evening, said, ‘One should not make any comments without taking recourse to the remedies available under the law. It is unfortunate that YS Rajasekhar Reddy does not know even this much.’
‘Going to the media itself is a wrong approach. Attributing of motives by Dr Keshava Rao and talking about appointment of judges is derogatory and amounts to virtual interference,’ the judge added.
Taking serious note of the remarks made by Dr Reddy and Keshava Rao, after he had struck down the notification issued for panchayat raj polls on the grounds of irregularities in the voters’ lists and other issues, the judge asked them to show cause as to why action should not be taken against them under the Contempt of Court Act.
Dr Reddy and Keshava Rao had commented on the observations made by the judge against the government and the State Election Commissioner A V S Reddy.
Later, on an appeal from the government and the state election commissioner, a division bench had stayed the single judge’s order.
Advocate-General C V Mohan Reddy, who came into the court while Justice Narayana was delivering the order, took exception, contending that the Chief Justice should allot contempt cases and a two-member bench should take cognisance of contempt case.
The chief minister declined to comment on the contempt notice, saying that he was yet to receive the notice.
The PCC president denied making any derogatory remarks against the single judge’s ruling, stating that he was second to none in respecting the judiciary.
By Syed Amin Jafri