No probe needed in phone chat of Andhra HC ex-judge, suspended official: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday said there was no need of an enquiry by retired apex court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran (retd), ordered by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, in a case involving a telephonic conversation between former Chief Justice V. Eswaraiah, and a suspended district munsif magistrate.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy said: “We see no reason to allow to continue the enquiry by Justice R.V. Raveendran as directed by the High Court by the impugned judgment.”

The enquiry was ordered into the conversation which allegedly disclosed some information against the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and a sitting judge of the top court.

Chief Justice Eswaraiah, who was Chief Justice in undivided Andhra Pradesh, filed an affidavit following a top court direction on January 11 to clarify his stand regarding his conversation with the suspended judge.

In a special leave petition, he contended that the High Court had erred in ordering an inquiry on the basis of an unverified pen drive to conclude a plot was hatched against the judiciary.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing him, argued 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.

In the judgment, the top court noted that the petitioner has filed an affidavit, admitted the conversation dated July 20, 2020 and has also filed the corrected transcript of the English translation of the audio tape.

“Authenticity and genuineness of the transcript having been admitted to the extent as contained in Annexure P-16, we are of the view that the direction by the High Court calling for report from Justice R.V. Raveendran need not be allowed to continue. We order accordingly,” it said.

The top court also observed that the High Court ought not to have embarked on any other enquiry in the matter except to the maintainability of the PIL at the instance of the writ petitioner and the conversation dated July 20, 2020, filed before the High Court as well as the enquiry report sought was only with the above purpose.