Former Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru, who inspired Suriya's reel-life `Jai Bhim', lashed out at Andhra Pradesh High Court for overstepping its "limits and power".
"Now what we see in Andhra Pradesh is that the High Court is overstepping its limits and power. Today, the elected government is fighting for its survival. Not from political rivals or any mass movement, but from Judiciary itself," said Justice Chandru, who fought against caste discrimination.
Justice Chandru was speaking at a program organized by AP Civil Liberties Association and Kula Vipaksa Porata Samithi to mark World Human Rights Day at Vijayawada.
Citing an example, Justice Chandru said an FIR was registered against a land scandal, but it was stayed by the High Court. "The whole judiciary instead of defending the rights of the people are doing something different, which is not expected," he said.
Referring to the division bench hearing a habeas corpus case, Justice Chandru said if a government or a department doesn't file a reply, one can impose a cost.
"Last month, Supreme Court imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh against the Tamil Nadu government in a human rights case. In civil litigation, if replies are not forthcoming, you make an ex-party inquiry. But when the division bench in AP says, `if there is no proper response by tomorrow, we will recommend President's Rule in the state'. where do we get all this?" he wondered.
Justice Chandru said he was worried because FIR cannot be registered. "Social media posts are intolerant and the President's rule is the sort to be recommended in a judicial order. This is not an off-the-cuff remark. It was written in the judicial order," he said.
On three capital issue, Justice Chandru said that the elected government passes a bill in the assembly and it was challenged. "High Court and Supreme Court can hear any matter. Two judges of the bench (Andhra Pradesh high court) are beneficiaries of land allotment in Amaravati. For the first time, the government filed the petition. As a lawyer of the High Court, if the judge has a conflict of interest, we should ask him not to hear the case. He may get angry, but he cannot do anything. Lawyer makes a plea on behalf of the client," he said.
Narrating his experience, he said he appeared before a commission of inquiry constituted to probe into the death of a student in Annamalai University.
"I gave a petition to a sitting judge saying, `please don't hear this case'. He asked me, why? I said, `You are an additional judge and this inquiry is against the Chief Minister. CM's input is important for your elevation. Then how will you decide the case against him, please step down'. At that time, I was not a law student but a student leader. The judge asked me under what law did you file this petition? I told him that I don't know the law but there is something called conscience. If your conscience is pricking, please step down," he said.
He said the same judge advised him to study law. ". Nevertheless, we should not feel hesitant to ask a judge 'Please don't hear this case. That may have a negative impact. If he is criminal bail judge, he might deny bail. But having taken an oath of office, you are expected to fearlessly pursue your case", said Justice Chandru.
Justice Chandru asked every lawyer to be fearless. "Come what may, you should defend your client," he said.