New Delhi: The Central Government on Tuesday was seen locking horns with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Supreme Court over the appointment of senior advocate Uday Lalit as special public prosecutor in the 2G spectrum case.

The CBI, which was asked by the Apex Court to suggest an eligible and capable prosecutor for the trial of 2G spectrum case, had on April 1 informed the court that Uday Lalit should be appointed for assisting the special court. But his name has been opposed by the Central Government.

Pleading on behalf of the government, Attorney General G E Vahanvati told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly that Lalit did not meet the eligibility criteria, as the provisions of Money Laundering Act under Section 46(2) are coming on the way of his appointment.

“According to this section, any special prosecutor should have worked under the state or the Union government for at least seven years to be eligible as the case has been filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act”, Vahanavati added.

Vahanvati said there were some apprehensions that Lalit's appointment as the SPP could be challenged at any stage and it may derail the entire prosecution of the case.

However appearing for the CBI, senior advocate K K Venugopal contended that Lalit had been in the lawyer's panel for the Maharashtra government and the Centre for 15 years and five years respectively and he fulfills the criteria.

But the Attorney General submitted that being in the panel is not sufficient and one should be the government's standing counsel for seven years and sought one week time from the court to come out with other name for the post.

The court also said that the Act does not mention the word "Standing counsel" and the objection raised was highly technical which should be given "reasonable" interpretation.

It may be noted that a Panel Counsel is one who is appointed by the government in any case and is paid as per his appearance. However, a Standing Counsel is authorised by the government to file petition and gets a fixed amount of retainer ship every month.

JPN/Bureau