Disgraced former telecom minister A Raja is bouncing from one controversy to another. And this time, he is in the middle of another battle of words between the top judicial officers of the country.
On Tuesday, Justice HL Gokhale of the Supreme Court directly contradicted former chief justice of India KG Balakrishnan, saying the ex-CJI was given Raja’s name as the minister who allegedly tried to influence Justice S Reghupathi of the Madras high court in 2009.
Justice Gokhale’s statement puts Justice Balakrishnan, currently chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, in a tight spot as the SC judge said he issued the statement only after verifying the facts from the CJI’s office.
In an unusual move by a judge, Justice Gokhale, who was the chief justice of the Madras high court when the alleged incident occurred, released a two-page press statement. He said he decided to go public after the former CJI’s December 8 statement denying having received any letter from him or Justice Reghupathi mentioning Raja.
“The reported statement of the former CJI gives an erroneous impression of my role,” Justice Gokhale said. “I may point out that Justice Reghupathi’s letter was already with him (Justice Balakrishnan), and in the second paragraph Justice Reghupathi had specifically mentioned the name of minister Raja,” he added.
The SC judge also pointed out that not only did he forward Justice Reghupathi’s letter but also received an acknowledgement from the then CJI’s office.
“With respect to the first statement of the former CJI that he did not receive any letter from Justice Reghupathi, I may point out that I had forwarded to the former CJI a copy of Justice Reghupathi’s letter dated July 2, 2009 by my letter dated July 5, 2009. The former CJI had in fact acknowledged the same in his letter dated August 8, 2009,” Justice Gokhale said.
Pushed on the back foot by Justice Gokhale’s statement, the former CJI told reporters in Ahmedabad: "He (Justice Reghupati) had not written to me as chief justice of India. He had written a letter written to the then Madras high court chief justice (Gokhale)."
Justice Reghupati (since retired), thanked Justice Gokhale, saying "everything has become true. Absolutely correct. Majesty of law will prevail and truth will prevail."
Terming the controversy as “unfortunate”, law minister M Veerappa Moily said: “It is a matter between Justice Balakrishnan and Justice Gokhale.. it is for the judiciary to sort it out.”
He, however, said, “It should have been pointed out at that time itself.”