Don't want be SC judge now on principle, to protect dignity: Subramanium

Last Updated 25 June 2014, 13:27 IST

Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, who has withdrawn his consent to be appointed a Supreme Court judge, Wednesday said he had faced the government's hostility for his "independence and integrity" as a lawyer.

He also regretted that "the judiciary has failed to assert its independence by respecting the likes and dislikes of the executive", and said he had withdrawn his consent as a matter of principle and to protect his "honour and dignity".

"I am not here to offer myself for continuous scrutiny. I have established my credibility. Intelligence Bureau cleared my name on May 15. I don't want any character certificate from anyone except myself," Subramanium told reporters at his office.

"My character and integrity do not need to be proved every morning. As long as persons like Justices Krishna Iyer and M.N. Venkatachaliah stand by me, I do not need to seek further fortification," Subramanium told reporters.

Venkatachaliah is a former Chief Justice of India and Iyer a former judge of the apex court.

"Nobody could have withstood to such a rubbish like this," Subramanium said, refuting media reports vilifying him in matters relating to 2G cases, staged shoot out cases of Sohrabbudin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, and the case relating to Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Amit Shah.

Rejecting the adverse media report voicing the government's reservations on his appointment, he said: "I must say that these media reports were malicious insinuations based on half-truths, and appear to be result of carefully planted leaks aimed at generating doubts in the minds of collegium and of the public as to the suitability and propriety of appointing me as a judge of the Supreme Court."

Describing the development as "sad", Congress leader Manish Tewari said: "This is a very sad day for the legal fraternity in India. He (Subramanium) is very respected counsel... he has been a victim of alleged character assassination and has been compelled to take this step."

In his nine-page letter  Wednesday to Chief Justice R.M.Lodha withdrawing his consent for being appointed a judge, Subramanium said: "It appears I am being targeted because of this very independence and integrity."

"I am fully conscious that my independence as a lawyer is causing apprehension that I will not toe the line of the government. This factor has been decisive in refusing to appoint me. I have no illusion that this is so," Subramanium said, training guns at the government.

Subramanium along with senior counsel Rohinton Nariman was among the four names that were recommended for appointment as the judge of the Supreme Court.

However, the government cleared all names except his.

Had he become an apex court judge, Subramanium would have gone on to become the Chief Justice of India and the second Tamilian to occupy this position after Chief Justice P.Sathasivam, who retired May 26 this year.

Subramanium appeared baffled with the silence of the Supreme Court collegium on the government's response to the names it had recommended.

Describing the government action as an impediment to the independence of the judiciary, Subramanium told media persons: "I was invited to be a judge. I was not longing to be a judge. Having accepted the invitation to be on the bench, I wanted to do some good work."

"The government has to be told that independent judges are not its enemy and they have to be independent to be in judiciary," he asserted.

Subramanium contended that the government's refusal to clear the recommendations has reduced to insignificance the 1993 apex court verdict in second judges case giving primacy to the advice of the apex court collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprising four other senior most judges on the appointment of judges.

"I am, however, unable to dispel the sense of unease that the judiciary has failed to assert its independence by respecting the likes and dislikes of the executive.

While harmony between different organs of the state is a desirable feature, the functionality of each organ is meant to have different, defining characteristics," Subramanium said in his letter.

Asked why he withdrew his consent even though the collegium had yet to meet and consider government returning his name, Subramanium said that "if I had stood the ground, it would have been that I had an agenda. I don't have an agenda".

(Published 25 June 2014, 13:27 IST)

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