Gopal Subramaniam row: Government meddling with judicial appointments a bad precedent

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Gopal Subramaniam, former SG
Former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam on Wednesday withdrew his consent for appointment as a Supreme Court judge but not before alleging a conspiracy on the part of the new Government by claiming it 'a very carefully orchestrated drama' to scuttle his elevation. This allegation if holds any ground is in bad taste of the Narendra Modi Government since it will be considered as an act of direct interference with the matters of the judiciary.

In a nine-page letter written to the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha Subramaniam has requested him to 'withdraw' the recommendation for his elevation as the judge of the apex court.

The Government had reportedly asked the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider his appointment based on the CBI and IB reports that questioned his competency.

As per a report, the CBI objected to Subramaniam's elevation stating that he had met with the lawyer of former Telecom Minister and accused in the 2G scam case A Raja, inside his chambers along with CBI officials. While the IB report on Tuesday red-flagged his appointment citing 'personality oddities' saying the former SG relied on his spiritual instincts rather than rational logic, says a report published in The Economic Times.

Subramaniam however rejected all such claims and termed it "a very carefully orchestrated drama" to scuttle his elevation.
56-year-old Subramaniam, who served as the solicitor general during the previous UPA regime, said he has been 'let down' by the decision of the NDA government and requested the collegium to reconsider his name as the judge of the apex court.

Subramaniam termed it a carefully orchestrated drama to scuttle his elevation

He was appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the apex court in many high-profile cases including in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which BJP leader Amit Shah's role as Gujarat's Minister of State (Home) came under the scrutiny. The opposition Congress has got ammunition to take Government saying that former SG is being targeted just because his investigation has brought BJP general secretary Amit Shah under the lens.

The Government has so far not come out with any official statement in this matter, but his elevation was reportedly stalled following a report by the CBI which questioned his role as Solicitor General in the 2G spectrum scam case and also his alleged links with former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

In his strongly worded letter to the Chief Justice, Subramaniam said, "I must add that to invite a leading member of the Bar, and his appointment to the Court, must engender expectations of positive conduct and contribution. I have always believed that the Executive Government would so perceive and understand. Clearly, this is not the case. The recent weeks have witnessed some serious Constitutional aberrations. Over the past two weeks quite a few media reports have voiced the Union Government's reservations about my appointment. These reports speak of alleged adverse reports against me by the Intelligence Bureau and the CBI. I must say that these media reports are malicious insinuations based on half-truths, and appear to be a result of carefully planted leaks aimed at generating doubts in the minds of the Collegium and of the public as to the suitability and propriety of appointing me as a judge of the Supreme Court."

The former SG has clarified over the allegations made in news reports, saying the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on May 15, 2014, had given him a clean chit. The IB and CBI both had sought his advice on sensitive matters of national security for over 25 years and he continued to have been the investigating agency's (CBI) lead lawyer even after his resignation from the post of Solicitor General.

This brings the pertinent question, why the CBI and IB would repeatedly engage him as lead counsel over the past 20 years if there was any doubt over his competency? The Government needs to come clean on this issue as its silence poses a bigger threat over functioning of a Constitutional body like the judiciary.

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