CJI slams Centre for 'segregating' Subramanium

CJI slams Centre for 'segregating' Subramanium

Says govt handled judges' issue casually

CJI slams Centre for 'segregating' Subramanium

Chief Justice of India R M Lodha on Tuesday criticised the Narendra Modi government for segregating the name of former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium from three others to be elevated as apex court judges.

He said the segregation was done “unilaterally” and “without my knowledge and consent”.

Subramanium has, in a letter to the CJI, withdrawn his consent to be a judge after reports emerged about the NDA government’s reluctance to elevate him in view of “adverse” remarks from the CBI and Intelligence Bureau against him.

The senior advocate, who had appeared as amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, which allegedly involved Modi’s close aide Amit Shah, suspected that he was targeted for his independence and integrity.

The government, on its part, cited previous instances of such segregations to justify its stand.

In a bid to come clean on the controversy, Lodha said, “I, as the CJI and four senior colleagues in the collegium spotted the best talent, who in our opinion would be good judges. We forwarded four names to executives for appointment on May 6, 2014. On my return on June 28 from abroad, a file was placed before me by the Ministry of Law and Justice, indicating that from the four names, three proposals have been approved and the name of Subramanium was segregated.”

“I fail to understand how the appointment to a high constitutional post has been dealt with in a casual manner. The segregation of Gopal Subramanium’s file was done unilaterally without my knowledge and concurrence which was not proper,” he added.

Speaking at a farewell function of Justice B S Chauhan here at the Supreme Court lawn, Lodha expressed his disappointment over Subramanium going public with his letter when he was abroad.

“On June 25, when I was in Johannesburg, I spoke with Subramanium. He seemed disturbed by media reports and I told him that I will come back on June 28 and discuss it. Meanwhile, I am sorry to say and shocked and a little disappointed that Mr Gopal wrote a letter on 25th, and brought it in public domain,” he said.

The CJI further said, “In the last 20 years, I fought for independence of the judiciary and for me this is one subject which is non-negotiable. At no cost, the independence of judiciary will be compromised. I will not hold my office if I see the institution of judiciary has been compromised.

“What is more precious to me is the institution for which I have worked as Chief Justice of HC, judge of SC and CJI,” he added.

In his letter, Subramanium had indicated that the judiciary failed to stand by him. He maintained that the judiciary, by allowing the segregation, had “surrendered” its independence before the executive.

Notably, if the collegium decides to recommend a particular name second time in a row, the government is left with no option but to go along with the recommendation.

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