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SC judge breaks down in court
Refuses to hear review petition of Mulayam’s son over ‘nasty letter’
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 16
In a dramatic twist to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav’s assets probe case, Justice A.R. Lakshmanan of the supreme court, heading a bench that had ordered a CBI inquiry into it, today refused to hear a review petition of the Chief Minister’s son and virtually broke down in the jam-packed court saying that a nasty letter casting imputation has been written to him.

“In seventeen-and-half years of my career as a judge and five years in this court, I have not received such a letter. I am sorry to say that me and my wife are very much disturbed. I am not even able to speak,” Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, who was virtually in tears, told a battery of senior lawyers appearing in the case in a choked voice.

The revelation stunned the packed court and senior advocates, appearing for Mulayam Singh, his son Akhilesh, a Lok Sabha MP, daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav and another son Prateek and additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, representing the union government.

When the lawyers wanted to know as who has written the letter and what are its contents, Justice Lakshmanan said, “The letter is anonymous… contents of the letter are absolutely heinous.”

He said he would like to withdraw from the bench and send the matter to Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to set up a new bench that would hear the review petition, filed by Akhilesh Yadav.

The bench on March 1 had ordered CBI probe into the assets of Mulayam Singh and his family members and the agency had consequently registered a preliminary inquiry to set the investigation process rolling.

Justice Kabir, the other judge in the bench, described the letter as “shocking” and said it had been written when Justice Lakshmanan had barely a few days to retire. He would be relinquishing office on March 21.

At this former additional advocate-general Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for Akhilesh, tendered apology to Justice Lakshmanan, saying he was also shocked to know about it. He and other senior advocates, including former attorney-generals Soli Sorabjee and Ashok Desai, appearing for the Chief Minister’s family members in unison said they had full faith in both judges and would like that they should continue with the hearing.

Rohtagi even proposed that till Monday next the matter should be adjourned so that the judges get enough time to have rethinking over their decision and continue with the hearing.

At this, Justice Kabir made it clear that he was not withdrawing from the bench. “These are things in which we don’t say much, but I will be there in the bench,” he said.

But he said that the letter had hurt his brother judge Lakshmanan to whom it was written. Consequently the matter was placed before the CJI, who posted it for further hearing next week.

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