It was quite surprising when Union Law Ministry turned down the elevation of the former Solicitor-General of India, Gopal Subramanium, as a judge of the Supreme Court while clearing the names of three others. The name of Mr. Subramanium has been returned to the Supreme Court collegiums for reconsideration. The case of blocking of Mr. Gopal Subrahmanium’s elevation to the Supreme Court is probably an example of where the new dispensation at the Centre is thinking to proceed in such matters. Politics and prejudiced interests should not come in the way of judicial matters.
On the other side, for the intellectually genius, it’s always good to avoid the controversial jury in the judicial system. As this raises eye-brows on future judgements and people tend to lose their faith over the same. The collegiums constituted consisted of VRK Iyer, who himself was a controversial figure in Indira Gandhi’s election case. It’s not that executive intervention in such posts which is good or bad, when at certain times the judiciary goes wrong, the executive has the power to question them, as well, when the executive goes wrong, the judiciary has the power to question them. That’s the charm of our Indian system. As an amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, Mr. Subramanium targeted the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat with new facts and was instrumental in the apex court ordering a CBI probe into the case. He was also the amicus curiae in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple case. This was expected from the Modi government as they will take sweet revenge. Anyways, I can understand the feeling of “let down” by the government and the Supreme Court over rejection of his name.
Under the Memorandum of Procedure, once the government returns the file to the Supreme Court, it is open for the collegiums to accept or reject the government’s stand. If the collegiums reiterate the recommendation of Mr. Subramanium, the government is bound to accept his elevation. In the first week of May, the Supreme Court collegiums headed by Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha had recommended four names for appointment as Supreme Court judges.
Let’s see what happens next. He has written a letter to the Supreme Court collegiums headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha requesting him to “withdraw” the recommendation for his elevation as judge of the apex court. He also said the candidature of a judge of the Supreme Court should be decided in sacredness and should not be bashed about.
The name of Mr. Subramanium, who served as the Solicitor-General during the UPA regime, was recommended by the collegiums for elevation to the apex court bench along with some other names. But the government rejected his name and returned the file while accepted the recommendation related to others, including another lawyer Rohinton Nariman. Upset over the media reports, Mr. Subramanium maintained that his conduct was clear and he had written to the Law Minister Kapil Sibal in the previous government about the extent of criminality in the 2G case that was hidden by the government when he was its counsel.
There should be transparency in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. When the collegiums have cleared the name of Mr. Gopal Subramanium, it is not known on what basis the central government has dropped his name. No political considerations should weigh in the selection of judicial appointments. In the case of appointments for subordinate judiciary, political considerations only are weighed. The appointments for SC are a prestigious issue and should be dealt with utmost care. The media should also act responsibly while reporting about senior lawyers. Now, the real surprise is that the report given by CBI is old and not related in any way to the newly formed Modi Government. The Government should issue a statement to clear the doubts raised on the matter of contention. The reason for Modi government not being in agreement for Mr. Subramanium, according to media reports, has got to do with his involvement in Sohrabuddin case. He was the Chief of the commission. An honest lawyer will have enemies in all the political parties, for every argument in favour of this gentleman lawyer being elevated to SC bench.
So, his decision to withdraw his name from the list is right, why to praise or lament? Supreme Court will be missing a judge of calibre. The loss is to the nation and not to the person who will earn much more sitting outside. If the common man should gain confidence in higher judiciary, it should be free from the clutches of political bosses.