The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a quo warranto writ petition seeking the removal of Justice N.V. Ramana of the Andhra Pradesh High Court holding that it was filed as a ruse to malign the judge.
A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai dismissed the petition filed by advocates M. Manohar Reddy and M.V. Narasimha Reddy, who alleged that Justice Ramana (respondent No. 3) had suppressed the information that a criminal case was pending against him.
Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “We have no hesitation in holding that at the time respondent No.3 was being considered for appointment as a judge of the High Court, he was unaware of any case being pending in which he was named as an accused and it is quite wrong to refer to him as “an absconder and a proclaimed offender” in the case. This finding leads to another and that is, it is not a case of suppression of any material fact by respondent No.3 or at his behest.”
The Bench said: “We have carefully gone through the record relating to the appointment of respondent No. 3 as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
From the record it is evident that none of the members of the High Court or the Supreme Court Collegia was aware of the fact. The State government was equally unaware of the fact and so was the Central government as is evident from the resume prepared by the Law Ministry as also the IB report. From all the attending circumstances, it is clear beyond doubt that not only respondent No. 3 himself, but practically no one was aware of the pendency of the case in which he was named as an accused.”
The Bench said: “The question, therefore, arises can a fact that is unknown to anyone be said to be not taken into consideration and can the consultative process faulted as incomplete for that reason. To our mind, the answer can only be in the negative. To fault the consultative process for not taking into account a fact that was not known at that time would put an impossible burden on the constitutional authorities engaged in the consultative process and would introduce a dangerous element of uncertainty in the appointments.”
The Bench said: “This writ petition professed to have been filed in public interest is, in our view, but a ruse to malign respondent No.3. In his report to the Chief Justice of India the (then) Chief Justice, Andhra Pradesh High Court, had made the following comment: The incident occurred almost 30 years ago. The case against Justice Ramana was withdrawn almost 10 years ago. That it should be raked up now is a little inexplicable."
The Bench dismissed the petition with costs of Rs. 50,000 payable by each of the two petitioners. The cost amount must be deposited in a fund for the welfare of the employees of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.