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65 Legal Professionals Call Out CJI NV Ramana’s Link To Arbitration Centre In Hyderabad

The letter points out that if judges try to create a monopoly of establishing and running arbitration and mediation centres, it would amount to a direct act of corruption.

NV Ramana
Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana performs a ritual during the stone laying foundation ceremony of the construction of the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre-Hyderabad (IAMC-H) new building, at Raidurg, in Hyderabad on March 2022. (ANI Photo)

New Delhi: A group of 65 legal professionals from all over the country have written a letter highlighting what they say is matter of “serious concern”, certain actions taken by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana along with some other judges.

Through their letter, the group of legal professionals, arbitrators, mediators and ADR practitioners, have drawn attention to an event where CJI NV Ramana inaugurated the Arbitration and Mediation Centre (IAMC) at Hyderabad, along with Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. But it has found that the IAMC was established under a Trust formed by Justice Ramana.

Objecting to the arbitration centre, the letter says, “…by misusing the official post, if judges try to create a monopoly of establishing and running arbitration and mediation centres running on profit and pave way for post-retirement plump business opportunity, it not only degrades the values of judicial life but would amount to a direct act of corruption.”

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“This illegal act, if approved, will throw open a new corrupt practice, where Judges right from magistrate court to Supreme Court will now develop private business during their official term and create safe post-retirement facilities using their power and influence while in office.”

The function for inaugurating the IAMC was reportedly attended by Supreme Court Judges, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Hima Kohli, SC former judge Justice R V Raveendran, Telangana High Court Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and ministers Mahmood Ali, KT Rama Rao and Indrakaran Reddy.

The letter says that the IAMC was “very strangely promoted by the Chief Justice and other judges who were present at the function”. On scrutiny, they learnt that the IAMC was established under a Trust formed by Justice N V Ramana “in his capacity”. There was no official sanction by the Centre or the Supreme Court for establishing such a centre, the letter states.

Further, the Trust deed showed the appointment of former Supreme Court Judges — Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice R V Raveendran — as trustees. Former Chief Justice of Telangana Hima Kohli and Law Minister A Indrakaran Reddy were appointed as ex-officio trustees. It added that the information was conspicuously concealed during the inaugural function, and wasn’t made public.

The letter further calls out what it says is the propagation and promotion of the Centre. Astonishing is that Justice Ramana proudly took credit for providing the first work at IAMC, during his inaugural speech. It also says that in the court proceedings, Justice Ramana told the lawyers, “We have started a new centre at Hyderabad.” This statement was misrepresenting as it appeared as if the Supreme Court has started a centre at Hyderabad.

It goes on to give several other examples for when Justice Ramana on four other occasions promoted the Centre, including an international conference on ‘Arbitration in the Era of Globalisation’ in Dubai and in the inaugural address at the Annual Meet of Indo-German Chamber of Commerce at Dortmund, Germany.

In the “direct nexus” it says Justice L. Nageswara Rao was made a life trustee by Ramana in the Trust. On May 21 this year, it says at the farewell function on the retirement of Justice Nageswara Rao, Justice Ramana declared that Justice Nageswara Rao will be heading IAMC after demitting office.

In the case of Justice Hima Kohli, the letter says, she was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on August 31 of last year. “This was 10 days after the execution of the Trust deed and 4 months before the inauguration of the centre. As per the Trust deed, Justice Hima Kohli was an Ex- Officio trustee, in her capacity as the Chief Justice of Telangana.” It says that as per clause 4.6 of the Trust deed10, the term of office of the Ex-Officio Trustees shall be co-terminus with the respective office held by them. “But, even after her elevation as a Judge of the Trust”.

Then on Justice R V Raveendran, who is made a life Trustee by Justice Ramana. It says in a criminal case filed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Andhra Pradesh against a former Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh along with Justice Ramana’s two daughters for illegally purchasing premium land in Amaravati before it was declared the capital, a connected matter came up where a former Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice V Eswaraiah admitted that he was “trying to collect more evidence” on the alleged involvement of the daughters of the sitting top judge in the Amaravati land scam.

In this matter, the High Court had directed Justice Raveendran to conduct an inquiry into this phone conversation14. It is regrettable that Justice Ramana included Justice Raveendran, who was enquiring in a matter connected with allegations of corrupt practice of procuring huge land by the daughters of Ramana, to be a life trustee in the trust that he established.

It also gives more inputs on the justices using official position to gain benefits for the Centre. One, Justice Ramana had directly asked the Telangana government to allot Around 5 to 10 acres of land nearby the financial district to set up the Centre.

The foundation stone for the new centre on the 5 acres of land gifted by the government was also laid by Justice Ramana. It also says that “By the influence of Justice Ramana, the state government has come forward to make IAMC its adjudication centre for any possible disputes that may arise during the implementation of its contracts, and tenders, about the state government’s works.”

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