“But did not follow up whether it reached him or not”
The former Madras High Court judge, R. Regupathi, on Wednesday said that he had written a letter on July 2, 2009 to the then Chief Justice of the High Court, regarding the attempt to influence him in an anticipatory bail case, with a “specific endorsement to forward the copy to the [then] Chief Justice of India” (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan.
Speaking to The Hindu on the phone, Justice Regupathi said he did not make sure whether the letter reached the CJI or not because “if I had followed it up closely, people would have attributed motives against me. In fact, I avoided meeting the CJI after that even though he had come to the judicial academy in Chennai and I too visited the Supreme Court to meet my lawyer friends.”
He gave two reasons for not initiating suo motu contempt proceedings against the individuals concerned. “Firstly, the issue was so big and the person involved was the Chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu. If I had initiated contempt, then I would have been holding my own brief. At times, judges may also commit mistakes. So I was careful in not dealing with the issue myself. Secondly, I thought it appropriate that some other judge should hear the matter. Therefore, I passed a judicial order requesting the Chief Justice of the High Court to transfer the case to another Bench. Coupled with it, I also addressed a letter to him on the administrative side. Being a sensitive issue, I was very careful and I am still sure I made the right decision,” he said.
“Once a judge delivers a judgment, he becomes ‘functus officio' [having performed his office]. Therefore, I made my decision that the matter should be handled my some other judge and put down everything in writing to the head of the institution and left the matter at that.
“Having been a criminal lawyer for nearly 30 years, I know that this was the right way to deal with such issues,” he added.