HYDERABAD: A Telangana High Court bench, comprising Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice K Lakshman, decided on Monday to recuse from hearing the recent petition on fee hike in medical colleges. The bench directed the registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice for passing appropriate orders.
The HC order comes after Telangana Admission and Fee Regulatory Committee (TAFRC) chairman Justice P Swaroop Reddy, a retired HC judge, had filed a memo against Justice Rao. In his memo, the Reddy expressed apprehension on Rao hearing the case, accused him of holding prejudice against the former and requested a different bench to hear the matter.
The bench said that the chairman’s memo, prima facie, amounts to interference with the administration of justice and criminal contempt. The chairman’s attempt in sullying the judicial process can also be viewed as an attempt to “bench hunting”, which has been deprecated by the Supreme Court in the case of RK Anand vs Delhi HC, the bench stated.
It, however, declined to initiate any proceedings for contempt, and recused from hearing the case and closed all issues arising out of the memo. In a writ petition filed before the Telangana HC, 121 medical students had recently challenged the GO 20, issued on April 14 recommending a higher fee structure for private unaided minority and non-minority professional medical and dental courses.
On May 14, the bench, headed by Justice Rao, while dealing with the petitioners’ case, had directed the TAFRC counsel to furnish a copy of the detailed reasons for recommending an increase in fee. On the next day, Reddy filed the memo in which he also defended his recommendations made to the government and questioned the locus standi of the petitioners to file the present case.
“On account of the antics of the TAFRC chairman the whole atmosphere has got vitiated, and since we do not wish to behave like him, while strongly denying each and every allegation, we do not intend to take any action for contempt and we close all issues arising out of the memo,” the bech stated.
It also held that the scurrilous and defamatory allegations in the memo are made with the sole malafide intention to avoid the hearing of the matter (fee hike) by the present bench.