Can’t probe ex-HC judge’s discussions on Amravati land deals: SC


The Supreme Court on Monday said it cannot hold an inquiry into the phone conversation between former Andhra Pradesh High Court judge, Justice V. Eswaraiah and a suspended trial court judge in connection with land deals in Amravati.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy said the court cannot hold an inquiry to ascertain the exact transcript of the conversation between the High Court judge and the trial court judge, and the edited content.

“Let the (Andhra) High Court take a call. If suppose High Court wants to proceed, High Court will give a notice,” the bench told advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was representing Eswaraiah. As Bhushan repeatedly insisted that the top court should set aside the High Court order, the bench noted that it will look into the issue and reserved the order.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court had ordered a probe into this conversation.

Bhushan vehemently contest the High Court order and termed it “very strange”, as no crime was committed in having this telephonic conversation. He alleged the land deals involves relatives of a sitting Supreme Court judge.

Bhushan also objected to the participation of senior advocates Harish Salve and Kapil Sibal, who were appearing for different intervenors, while saying: “I have not edited anything out of that conversation.”

Salve said the affidavit filed by Bhushan’s client makes matter worse, as it states that certain parts of the transcript may not be correct or edited. Sibal added that a table has been made of the conversations which the judge admits and the ones’ he doesn’t.

Justice Eswaraiah moved the top court challenging the High Court order, which said the conversation in question had allegedly disclosed a “serious conspiracy” against the judiciary.

He filed an affidavit following top court direction on January 11 to clarify his stand regarding his conversation with the suspended judge.

In a special leave petition, the former judge of the High Court contended the HC had erred in ordering an inquiry on the basis of an unverified pen drive to conclude a plot was hatched against the judiciary. Bhushan reiterated that there was no criminal conspiracy in the conversation and the transcript filed by the suspended judge shows that there was nothing to show that a crime was committed.

Bhushan told the Supreme Court that High Court was hearing cases related to Covid issues and the suspended magistrate filed an intervention application in which he annexed a pen drive and later leaked the conversation to media.