Disclosure puts ex-CJI Balakrishnan in spot
The Pioneer was the first to report on July 1, 2009 that Raja was the person who had tried to put pressure on the judge to grant bail to one Dr C Krishnamurthy and his son.
After The Pioneer expose, the entire Opposition demanded Raja’s resignation and intervention of the Prime Minister. But all of a sudden, after four days, on July 5, 2010, Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan in an interview to an English daily declared that “No Minister had called the Judge” and termed the incident as a mischief by the advocate.
“No Minister had called the judge. That is my information. It seems that one lawyer claimed that some Minister was interested in the case. Then the judge told the lawyer that he was not interested in knowing if any Minister was interested or not,” Balakrishnan had said.
But, it is a fact that Balakrishnan was in receipt of Justice Reghupathy’s letter of July 2, 2009, in which he had clearly identified Raja as the Union Minister who had tried to influence him through advocate RK Chandramohan. Raja may not have spoken to Justice Reghupathy, but it is clear he tried to dictate terms to him through advocate Chandramohan.
This is evident from the following passage of Reghupathy’s letter to Balakrishnan: “To start with, he (Chandramohan) discussed about the general subject on advocates and proceeding he said two persons who are father and son/accused in a criminal case are family friends of a Union Minister by name A Raja and that the petition filed by them for anticipatory bail must be considered favourably.”
The emphasis on word “must” shows that Chandramohan, a close friend of Raja, was not merely making a request by directing the judge on behalf of Raja.
Balakrishnan had reiterated the same statement after a month in a press conference also and termed the incident “as a closed chapter.”
Incidentally, around the same time, the Supreme Court stayed the order of the Central Information Commission for publication of Justice Reghupathy’s letter to Balakrishnan about the incident. The CIC had ordered to publish the letter on a petition filed by RTI activist Subash Chandra Agrawal. But in a rare intervention, the Supreme Court stayed order of CIC and referred the matter to a Constitution Bench, which is yet to settle the case.
Meanwhile, reacting to Madras High Court disclosure, Balakrishnan said on Tuesday evening
he did not receive any complaint from Justice Reghupathy alleging that a Union Minister interfered with his judicial function.
The former CJI also said that if anything happened like that he himself could have exercised his powers of contempt of court for which no permission is required from the Chief Justice of India.
The controversial Nira Radia tape also talk about the clean chit given by Balakrishnan to Raja. On July 7, 2009, just two days after Balakrishnan absolved Raja in the media interview, Radia referred the episode to Ratan Tata.
“Yeah, I met Raja today. I went to see him today and he is alright. He is a happy man.
The Chief Justice has given his clearance on him and he’s happy. He’s really happy with that,” says Radia to Tata.
The Pioneer had extensively reported about the close relations between Raja and bail applicant Krishnamurthy. Raja’s law office in his home town Peramballor was housed in a building owned by Krishnamurthy. Raja’s two nieces R Sanathanalakshmi and R Anandabhuvaneswari and his nephew R Sridhar, have 15 per cent shares each in a real estate company Kovai Sheltors Promoters Ltd in which Krishnamurthy is the Managing Director.
Krishnamurthy and his son were charged by CBI for manipulating the MBBS exam of Pondichery University. A University employee, the whistleblower of the mark-list scam was found murdered and the section of the University where answer papers were kept burnt.
The father and son were absconding after the chargesheet and had applied for bail in Reghupathy’s court.