Centre defends action After Chief Justice of India R M Lodha expressed displeasure over the Center's handling of the recommendation for appointment of senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as judge of the Supreme Court, the government said that the case was not taken forward as the noted lawyer himself ‘withdrew’ his candidature while the process of conducting verification was underway. Government sources said the Supreme Court collegium had referred four cases for appointment as the judges. JPN/Agencies
"As a standard operating procedure, verification about all the four was conducted. Out of them, three cases were fine but the case of Subramanium was referred back to the Collegium for reconsideration," the sources said.
"In the meanwhile, Subramanium himself withdrew his candidature because of which his candidature lapsed and the issue was no longer valid. Hence, his case was not taken forward.” the sources added.
The Supreme Court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India had recommended names of four eminent persons as judges of the Apex Court but the government cleared the names of Chief Justices of Calcutta and Orissa High Courts, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goyal respectively, and lawyer Rohinton Nariman, leaving out the former solicitor general.
CJI critical of government’s move to segregate Subramanium’s name
The Chief Justice of India took exception of the issue involving Subramanium, saying it was not proper for the executive to unilaterally segregate his name from three others who were appointed to the top court.
"I fail to understand how the appointment to a high constitutional post has been dealt with in a casual manner. The first thing I have taken objection to (is) that the segregation of Subramanium's proposal from other three proposals unilaterally by the executive without my knowledge and concurrence was not proper," he said during a function in the national capital while breaking his silence on the controversy.
Justice Lodha, who was travelling abroad when the segregation of Subramanium's name from those of others took place, went public on Tuesday evening with his objection to the executive’s unilateral action.
Justice Lodha asserted that independence of judiciary was of utmost importance to him and told the lawyers at the function that ‘don't get the impression that independence of judiciary was compromised’.
CJI's displeasure draws mixed reactions
Experts gave mixed opinion on the displeasure of Chief Justice of India.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad refused to comment on the CJI's remarks.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi said the segregation of one of the recommendations without the knowledge of the CJI and subsequently, releasing of the letter to media by Subramanium have ‘complicated’ the situation.
"I agree with both points raised by CJI about segregation of one of the recommendations without the knowledge and consent of CJI which was improper and virtually presented a fait accompli to Supreme Court. Further, the public debate initiated by Gopal Subramanium by releasing his letter to the press complicated the situation as he made the collegium functus officio by withdrawing his consent to be elevated. It is a combination of the two which has resulted in the present stalemate," he said.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on his part said the issue is ‘closed’ as the CJI has come clean by disclosing all facts to the public.
"The CJI has come clean. He has disclosed all facts to the public. He has stated that he spoke to Gopal Subramanium who said he does not want to push his candidature (for elevation to Supreme Court) any further,” he said.
Another senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said that the nomination of Subramanium ‘should not be closed’.
"I welcome what the CJI has said. Question is what is the next step. So far, the government ministers have criticised Gopal Subramanium but no reports were sent to the CJI. All I want is that if a report is sent, the collegium will examine it with due care. The nomination of Subramanium should not be closed, but kept pending," he said.
Centre defends action
After Chief Justice of India R M Lodha expressed displeasure over the Center's handling of the recommendation for appointment of senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as judge of the Supreme Court, the government said that the case was not taken forward as the noted lawyer himself ‘withdrew’ his candidature while the process of conducting verification was underway.
Government sources said the Supreme Court collegium had referred four cases for appointment as the judges.