Mecca Masjid blast: Speculations abound over judge’s post-verdict resignation
The resignation of National Investigation Agency (NIA) judge Justice K Ravinder Reddy shortly after the pronouncement of a judgment acquitting all the accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case on Monday has set off a flurry of speculation in legal circles.
The contents of Justice Reddy’s resignation letter, submitted to high court chief justice Ramesh Ranganathan hours after the verdict was delivered, were not disclosed to the media. However, people familiar with the development said he cited “personal reasons” and “injustice to Telangana” as factors that prompted the decision.
The judge, who heads the fourth metropolitian magistrate’s court in Hyderabad, has gone on leave for 15 days pending the acceptance of his resignation. He remained confined to his residence in Uppal on the city’s outskirts, and mediapersons who tried to contact him were turned away.
A man who identified himself as Justice Reddy’s brother but refused to share his name said the judge was unwilling to talk. “He is governed by the code of conduct, and cannot talk until his resignation is accepted,” he added.
The judge’s decision to step down gave rise to speculation that he had come under intense pressure to acquit all the accused in the sensational case. “He even told some of his colleagues he was receiving intimidating calls,” said an advocate on the condition of anonymity.
Besides this, Justice Reddy was himself facing charges of corruption in granting out-of-turn anticipatory bail to a Kadapa realtor in a forgery case last year. The allegations were made in an affidavit submitted by Hyderabad businessman M Krishna Reddy to the high court on December 11, 2017.
A copy of the document has been reviewed by HT.
“Justice Reddy’s resignation has nothing to do with the Mecca Masjid judgment. Apparently, the judge feared that he might have to face an investigation by the anti-corruption bureau if the high court orders one on the basis of our affidavit,” said senior high court advocate T Sri Ranga Rao, who filed the document on behalf of Krishna Reddy.
Rao said Justice Reddy granted bail to the accused while he was heading the seventh metropolitan court in the absence of the regular judge, who – incidentally – had rejected the plea on two previous occasions. “The fact that he granted bail in the absence of the public prosecutor showed that he harboured malicious intentions,” the advocate added.
However, another advocate suggested that the judge may be unfairly accused of corruption. “As far as I know, Justice Reddy is sincere and has leftist leanings. There were no allegations of corruption against him in the past. Even Krishna Reddy’s affidavit only questions his unusual interest in granting bail,” he said.
The advocate said Reddy is also the president of the Telangana Judicial Officers Association, which wants bifurcated high courts for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “As Justice Reddy was supposed to retire in another two months anyway, it was unlikely that he would get an opportunity to become a high court judge. This must be why he resigned now,” he added.
There was also talk that Justice Reddy was considering a career in politics. “He is likely to join the Telangana Jana Samithi, a new political party launched by Telangana Joint Action Committee chairman Prof M Kodandaram,” said another advocate. “The judge is interested in contesting the assembly elections from his native district of Karimnagar. Maybe that’s why pro-Telangana Rashtra Samithi groups in the legal fraternity are trying to implicate him in corruption cases.”
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