A new dimension was Friday added to the controversy surrounding the removal of special prosecutor in the corruption case pending against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in a Bangalore court.
Jayalalithaa raised questions over the administrative decision taken by the incumbent Chief Justice (CJ) of the Karnataka High Court, who favoured removal of the prosecutor after “condemning” the decision of his predecessor.
She had moved the apex court after the state government issued a notification taking off G Bhavani Singh as the prosecutor. She imputed political motive on the government and claimed they wanted to keep the sword of the case hanging on her head.
Subsequently, the government relented to withdraw the notification for want of an approval from the CJ. The state government later approached Chief Justice D H Waghela, who by his order on September 14, held there were lacunae in the consultation process by which Singh was appointed.
Reading to the CJ’s order before a Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, representing Jayalalithaa, asked: “How can the chief justice say that the previous chief justice passed the order in a mechanical manner? Previous acting chief justice’s act is condemned. Is it in accordance with the judicial norms?” He also questioned why a contention was now being raised that Singh was not a designated senior advocate and hence not eligible to be appointed as the prosecutor.
The Bench attempted to intervene and urged the counsel to keep the CJ out of the controversy since the petition was not aimed against his order. It also pointed out that the orders had been passed by different judges, who were chief justices at the relevant time.
Naphade however retorted: “All this should have been seen by the chief justice earlier? It does not make a different that there was a different chief justice earlier. Was it not his duty to see to it? It is about the institution. Nobody is above the law.”
He said that the CJ, who had initially appointed Singh, was also from Karnataka and hence Singh must have made