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SC stays suspension of TN bar council chairman; ex-CJI denies knowledge of ‘influenced’ judge

The Supreme Court has stayed the Madras High Court suspension of the state bar council chairman R K Chandramohan while former CJI Balakrishnan denied that he suppressed allegations that a Madras High Court judge was influenced by Chandramohan and former telecoms minister A Raja.

Both of yesterday’s developments were related to former telecom minister Raja’s alleged attempts to influence a Madras High Court judge via Chandramohan to gain a favourable order in 2009.

The Madras High Court directed on 7 December 2010 that Chandramohan be dismissed as the state bar council chairman while urging the Bar Council of India (BCI) to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.

Yesterday the Supreme Court bench of justices D K Jain and H L Dattu stayed the Madras High Court’s order in a writ petition after arguments from senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi that the high court did not have the power to suspend Chandamohan.

The PTI reported: “Rohtagi wondered how could a writ of Quo Warranto (issued against a person who claims or holds a public office by a court inquiring 'by what authority' the person supports his or her claim) lie in the case of statutory appointments and for directing the suspension of Chandramohan as the bar council chairman.”

The SC said it would decide on Chandramohan’s matter at the next hearing in the first week of 2011.

Meanwhile, ex-CJI K G Balakrishnan has denied that he ever received a letter from Justice Regupathy that mentioned telecom minister Raja’s name in connection with the case, and that the CJI could therefore not be blamed for having failed to take action to investigate the allegations of undue influence on the judge.

The former CJI and incumbent chairman of National Human Rights Commission blamed certain sections of the media that were trying to create a wedge between members of higher judiciary by attaching undue motives.

Balakrishnan’s press statement also suggested that the law minister too had been apprised of Justice Regupathy’s letter and that the judge himself could also have taken direct action him against any advocates acting in contempt of court. Law minister Moily declined to comment.

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