Not enough justice

The suspension of lawyer R K Chandramohan from the chairmanship and membership of the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Bar Council should not mark the end of the controversy over the charge that former Union telecom minister A Raja tried to influence a judge of the Madras high court in a case before it. The court has taken action on the basis of a revelation by Justice Raghupathy, who has since retired, that the lawyer spoke to him in his chamber and tried to make him speak to the minister who was perhaps on the line. The judge had spoken about the matter in open court last year and written to the chief justice about it. What was sought from the judge was a favourable order on an anticipatory bail application by a medical practitioner who was a friend of the minister.

The issue had been brought to the notice of the then chief justice of India, K G Balakrishnan, but unfortunately there was no further action. Balakrishnan has tried to justify his inaction on the ground that no name of a minister was specifically mentioned in the letter to him. This is a lame excuse and is unacceptable. When a judge had made a complaint the chief justice was bound to pursue it and find out who was involved in the grossly improper conduct which amounted to severe contempt of court. It would not have been difficult to find out the identity of the minister through examining phone call records. There was also circumstantial evidence against Raja as the favour was sought for a friend of his.

After verifying the truth of the matter the CJI should have reported it to the prime minister if Raja’s role was confirmed in it. Instead a high judge’s serious complaint was taken lightly and the matter was brushed under the carpet. It would not have come to public attention if the court had not mentioned it again now. It is not only the lawyer who must be proceeded against for contempt of court. Raja has denied the charge against him but his words are not convincing. It is possible to investigate the matter even now. There are charges of political and other kinds of intervention in the judiciary. When a judge himself names a person who tried to influence him how could the culprit be allowed to escape without even a proper enquiry?

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