The government’s sudden decision to replace the two senior lawyers representing the CBI in a corruption case in the Supreme Court despite the investigating agency having opposed the move has brought back the focus on political interference in CBI’s functioning.
Though the CBI has made it clear that it resisted any move to replace former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium and senior lawyer Dayan Krishnan, both of whom had been appearing for it since a long time in a graft case against a former top official of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the way the government bluntly overruled the investigating agency, exposes its helplessness.
The taken by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) and the law ministry, comes at a time when the apex court is already examining the issue of CBI autonomy in the coal blocks allocation scam.
“We had wanted to retain the two senior lawyers. The CBI director had resisted the move to drop them, but a government department insisted that it did not want to retain private lawyers in key cases, including the case against the former ED official,” said a CBI source.
The government’s explanation that it does not want private lawyers to appear for the CBI is far from convincing, given the fact that senior private lawyers are representing the investigating agency in several high profile cases, including the 2G telecom spectrum allocation and coal blocks allocation cases in the Supreme Court itself.
Even the Maharashtra government had hired Subramanium to represent it in the Supreme Court in the case of Pakistani terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, after he had quit as solicitor general in July 2011.
Subramanium was not available for comment, but juniors in his chamber said he had agreed to take up the CBI’s case against the ED official on the request of the then attorney general Soli Sorabjee in 2002. Subramanium’s office said a senior agency official had met recently for a “lengthy briefing” on how to proceed in the case.