No mention of Raja in Gokhale's report: Balakrishnan
The former Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, was aware of the incident involving advocate R.K. Chandramohan who used the name of the former Union Minister, A. Raja, in an alleged attempt to influence Justice R. Regupathi, former Judge of the Madras High Court, in a criminal case, asserted Supreme Court Justice H.L. Gokhale here on Tuesday.
Justice Gokhale, who was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court at that time, disputed the statement of Justice Balakrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, that there was no occasion for him to recommend any further action in the matter since there was no mention of the name of the then Cabinet Minister, Raja, in the report sent by the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
Pointing to Justice Balakrishnan's statement that he did not receive any letter directly from Justice Regupathi in this behalf, Justice Gokhale said: “The reported statement of the former CJI gives an erroneous impression about my role in the matter. Hence, it became necessary for me to verify the facts from the record with the CJI's office.”
In a detailed press note, Justice Gokhale said he had forwarded to the former CJI a copy of Justice Regupathi's letter dated July 2, 2009 by a letter dated July 5, 2009. The former CJI had in fact acknowledged the same in his subsequent letter dated August 8, 2009 as follows: vide letter dated July 5, 2009, you have forwarded to me a detailed letter/report July 2, 2009 of Justice Regupathi explaining the actual state of affairs concerning the alleged misconduct of a Union Minister of the Government of India reported in the media.”
However, speaking to The Hindu, Justice Balakrishnan said: “What I had stated is that I only received a copy of the letter sent by Justice Regupathi to the [then] High Court Chief Justice Gokhale. I received a report from Justice Gokhale and in that report there was no mention of the name of the Minister Raja, though there was reference to a Cabinet Minister. I cannot take action on the basis of a letter written by a High Court Judge to the High Court Chief Justice. I need a concrete report for me to take action.”
Justice Gokhale said: “The former CJI informed me by that letter that he had received a copy of the memorandum concerning the above incident, addressed by a large number of Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister. A copy thereof was enclosed to seek my views/comments on the issues raised therein. I replied to this letter on August 11, 2009.”
On the former CJI's statement that there was no mention of the name of any Union Minister in the report sent by him, Justice Gokhale said: “I may point out that Justice Regupathi's letter was already with him [former CJI] and in the second paragraph thereof Justice Regupathi had specifically mentioned the name of Minister Raja. I had no personal knowledge about the incident, and the observations in my reply were in conformity with the contents of Justice Regupathi's letter.”
He quoted the relevant portion of Justice Regupathi's letter which said that Mr. Chandramohan urged him to favourably consider the bail plea of a father and son, accused in a murder case, as they were family friends of Mr. Raja.
Justice Gokhale further said: “I drew the attention of the former CJI to a sentence in Justice Regupathi's letter regarding the statement he made in the court: I observed that a counsel, who made an attempt to exert influence on the court by using the name of a Cabinet Minister cannot be allowed to succeed in snatching an order in his favour by advancing threat. In this letter, I also informed the former CJI about the petitions filed in the Madras High Court concerning this incident. The continuity of the correspondence clearly shows that the incident related to advocate Chandramohan and Minister Raja had been brought to the notice of the former CJI.”