NEW DELHI (TIP): Accusing the government of ordering the CBI to dig up dirt on him and expressing disappointment with the judiciary for letting him down, former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium on JUne 25 withdrew his consent to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. In a nine-page letter to Chief Justice R M Lodha, Subramanium said that his withdrawal followed media reports which made “malicious insinuations based on half-truths and appear to be a result of carefully planted leaks aimed at generating doubts in the minds of the collegium and of the public as to the suitability and propriety” of his appointment.
Slamming the Narendra Modi government for blocking his appointment, he said that his “independence as a lawyer is causing apprehensions that I will not toe the line of the government. This factor has been decisive in refusing to appoint me.” Protesting what he called “a very carefully orchestrated drama to overcome a recommendation”, Subramanium drew attention to his role in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which he had, as the Supreme Court’s amicus curiae, made recommendations that proved embarrassing to the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi.
“It appears that I am now being targeted for this very independence and integrity,” he alleged. It was at his instance that the Gujarat police were forced to book a murder case in the matter and then when the prime witness, Tulsiram Prajapati, had been liquidated in suspicious circumstances, he had recommended the transfer of the case to the CBI. Significantly, Subramanium also admitted that it was on his suggestion that the Supreme Court, while granting bail to accused Amit Shah, had barred him from entering Gujarat.
During the hearing of the bail plea, “I had said that his liberty should not be infringed and he may be allowed to be enlarged on bail but remain outside the state of Gujarat,” Subramanium said, adding, “This is only to indicate that I had no personal vengeance or any kind of grudge against Amit Shah.” Asserting that he did not want his elevation to be “the subject matter of any kind of politicization”, Subramanium said that “the events of the past few weeks have raised serious doubts in my mind as to the ability of the executive government to appreciate and respect the independence, integrity and glory of the judicial institution.
” He added, “I do not expect this attitude to improve with time.” Given that the law ministry cleared the other three persons who had been recommended along with him by the Supreme Court collegium, Subramanium said that the segregation had been carried out without the file being sent back to the collegium for reconsideration. “If I continue to be a judge in waiting, the validity of these appointments is bound to come under a cloud,” he said.
Repudiating the allegations “inspired” by “constituents of high authority” from the side of the executive, Subramanium urged the chief justice to clear the air. “The court owes me in the very least, a clear statement of confidence, although my personal character is not dependent on the outcome of such willingness,” he said. “It is an act of closure, which a court of justice owes to its own members. By failing to do it, the court will sink into quicksand.” One of the allegations made against him is that, while he was dealing with the 2G scam as solicitor general, Subramanium had in his presence made CBI officers meet a lawyer representing accused minister A Raja.
Denying that such a meeting had ever taken place, Subramanium said that he had in fact recommended to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in writing that the case against Raja should not be closed. As for the allegation based on Niira Radia tapes that he had accepted free membership of swimming pool in Taj Mansingh hotel, Subramanium said that he had never got around to taking membership there.
This was despite the fact that he had been offered paid membership there when he was looking for an alternative to Talkotara Stadium, which was under repair at the time. After sending his letter to the CJI, Subramanium appeared on TV channels to give his side of the story. “I am sorry that the Supreme Court did not stand up for me. Therefore, I have withdrawn and decided to fend for myself,” he said.