AG refuses to rethink choice declining consent to provoke contempt towards CM Reddy

New Delhi, November 8

Attorney General KK Venugopal has refused to reconsider his November 2 decision declining consent to BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay to initiate contempt proceedings against the Andhra Pradesh chief minister and his principal advisor for making allegations against judges.

The topmost law officer, in his reply to Upadhyay’s letter seeking reconsideration of the decision, reiterated his stand saying that the issue of contempt was between Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy and his principal advisor Ajeya Kallam.

Venugopal on Saturday also said in the response that the lawyer was not precluded from raising this issue on his own before apex court judges or during the hearing of a PIL filed by him only seeking the lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers.

Upadhyay, on November 5, had urged Venugopal to have a relook on the decision and said, “I humbly request you to peruse these points (particularly the fact that the question of contempt is not pending anywhere else) and kindly reconsider the granting of consent to my request.          

“This is an issue of great importance at a time when our judiciary continues to be besieged by attacks, and a strong stand needs to be taken by those of us who are a part of the institution,” he said.

In the November 7 reply, Venugopal referred to his earlier response and said, “The very crux of the alleged contempt lies in the contents of the letter written by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy to the Chief Justice of India, and thus open to the Supreme Court to take up the matter of contempt suo motu as provided by the Contempt of Courts Act, and the rules made there under.”               

“Given that the CJI is seized of the matter, it would not be appropriate for me to grant consent and preclude the determination of the Chief Justice of India on the matter. As you are no doubt aware, contempt is a matter between court and contemnor, and no person as of right can insist upon the initiation of contempt proceedings,” he said.

Venugopal said his decision does not precluded Upadhyay from bringing these facts to the notice of the judges of the Supreme Court with a prayer for initiation of suo motu action.

“You may exercise this right by way of information placed on the administrative side or by bringing it to the attention of the court during the hearing of …where you are already a petitioner in person,” Venugopal said in his letter.

Taking the consent of the law officer is a condition precedent for initiating criminal contempt against a person.

In an unprecedented move, the chief minister, on October 6, had written to the CJI alleging that the Andhra Pradesh High Court was being used to “destabilise and topple my democratically elected government”.

Upadhyay then sought consent of the Attorney General for initiating the contempt against the CM and his advisor.

Venugopal, on November 2, termed as “prima facie contumacious” the conduct of Reddy and Kallam for making allegations against the judiciary, but had declined consent to Upadhyay to initiate contempt against them on the grounds that CJI Bobde was seized of the matter.

The plea for relook has also been declined. PTI

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