Late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s widow Y.S. Vijaya Monday withdrew from the Supreme Court her petition imputing bias to the Andhra Pradesh High Court in an illegal assets’ case involving politicians.
The apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice T.S. Thakur asked senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Vijaya, to withdraw the petition.
“All your case is against the lawyers and not the judges,” the bench told Rohatgi.
Vijaya had imputed bias to the high court during a hearing on the petition of Telugu Desam Party leader and former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and his party leaders.
The TDP leaders had challenged an earlier high court order directing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct preliminary inquiry against them for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.
Rohatgi told the court that one after the other six high court benches recused from hearing the matter against the TDP leaders. He said the high court benches were disabled by the appearance of lawyers who were either judges’ relatives or associated with them.
Saying that the seventh bench had completed the hearing and reserved the order, Rohatgi said: “I have apprehension about the presiding judge’s bias.” He added that the Dec 13 order directing the CBI to hold preliminary inquiry was stayed.
Rohtagi told the court that “in a situation of this nature, let not this high court hear it and let it go to the high court of the adjoining state”.
When the apex court asked Rohtagi whether he was imputing bias to the bench that had heard and reserved the order, the senior counsel said that another senior counsel, Sushil Kumar, had appeared for Vijaya in the case before the high court.
However, he had to come to Delhi for an urgent work and by the time he returned to Hyderabad a day later, the court had stayed the interim order directing a preliminary enquiry by the CBI against Chandrababu Naidu and 12 others.
Rohtagi said that judges could have frustrated the alleged attempt to disable the benches by the petitioner. He said that he had seen judges who tell lawyers that “you are here to disable me, you withdraw from the case”.