Days after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote to the chief justice of India accusing Justice NV Ramana of bias and impropriety, the senior-most judge of the top court on Saturday said that judges should be “fearless in their decisions to withstand all pressures and odds,” PTI reported.

Speaking at a condolence meet for former Supreme Court judge Justice AR Lakshmana, Ramana, next in line to become the chief justice of India, said the greatest strength of the judiciary was the faith of the people in it. “Faith, confidence and acceptability cannot be commanded, they have to be earned,” he added.

Last week, Reddy in a letter to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, alleged that Ramana had been influencing the sittings of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The chief minister said that Telugu Desam Party leaders were beneficiaries of two important judgements of the High Court and that Ramana was a legal adviser and additional advocate-general in the previous Chandrababu Naidu-led government.

Ramana-Reddy controversy

Reddy’s letter came after a bench headed by Ramana ordered proceedings against the chief minister in a disproportionate assets case. The bench was hearing a petition seeking fast-tracking of pending criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers. On October 10, the very next day after the order was passed, the letter, dated October 6, was made public by Reddy’s principal advisor.

Soon after, the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into allegedly defamatory social media posts on judgements of the court by members of Reddy’s party. The order, however, did not mention the letter.

The matter appears to have given birth to split opinions even within the judiciary. The Bar Council of India on Thursday issued a statement calling Reddy’s letter “an attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary.” The Supreme Court Bar Association also passed a resolution on October 16 condemning the letter. However, the body’s President Dushyant Dave has expressed his dissent against the resolution, reported The Wire.