Cong non-committal on Deshmukh''s fate

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Congress today remained non-committal on the fate of Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh,whose continuance in the government was questioned by aSupreme Court judge for influencing police from taking actionagainst a Congress MLA in a money lending case when he waschief minister of Maharashtra.

Facing a volley of questions from reporters, partyspokesman Shakeel Ahmed suggested that moves for review of thejudicial order against Deshmukh could be underway and thematter could go to a larger bench.

"We have also seen the report as to what the sittingjudge of the Supreme Court has observed. We do not want to bein argument on this... Legal luminaries looking after thecase will look into it," was Ahmed''s refrain to questionsincluding whether Deshmukh has moral right to continue.

The rural development minister, who had earlier facedsevere criticism from the Supreme Court in the case, had twodays back at a public function in Mumbai come under furtherattack from an apex court judge who questioned his continuancein the government.

"It is sad and shocking to see how the governmentallows and appreciates such ministers. Not only that, it alsogives them a Cabinet post. It is not a dignified act and Iwould call it a shameless act," Justice A K Ganguly said at aseminar in Mumbai two days back.

Asked whether it was proper for the judge of the apexcourt to make such a comment at a public function, Ahmedsteered clear of the issue saying he does not want to make anycomment.

"Only a lawyer will be able to tell," remarked theCongress spokesman when asked whether Justice Ganguly''scomment needed to be taken as an "individual comment" or"observation of Supreme Court."

He also refrained from reacting a query whetherJustice Ganguly''s carping comment on Deshmukh was part ofjudicial activism which has been growing in recent days.

In reply to another question, he said that there wasno link between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh''s comment thatthe power of judicial review should never be used to erode thelegitimate role assigned to other branches of the governmentand the comment by Justice Ganguly.

Ahmed too said that all branches needed to be aware oftheir responsibilities, indicating that there was unease inthe party over the growing judicial activism.

When pointed out that Congress had demanded KarnatakaChief Minister B S Yeddyurrappa''s resignation on the basis ofadverse comments by Lokayukta, Ahmed said Yeddyurappa''s casewas different and a "clear case of corruption" whereas inDeshmukh''s case there are observations of Supreme Court judge.

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