Taken aback by the strong observations of the Supreme Court in the ongoing 2G spectrum case, the government on Saturday decided to engage noted lawyer KK Venugopal to represent the CBI in the top court.
The surprise decision by the law ministry to employ the services of Venugopal, an independent lawyer ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Monday, comes barely two days after law minister M Veerappa Moily had said additional solicitor general Harin Raval will continue to appear for the CBI.
A ministry official said, “It has been decided to take the services of advocate KK Venugopal to represent the CBI in the ongoing public interest litigation demanding monitoring of the probe in 2G scam by the SC.” He said Raval will be in the legal team to assist the senior lawyer in the sensitive matter.
The Supreme Court had slammed the CBI for its “slipshod investigation” in the 2G spectrum scam on October 29.
The law ministry has been facing tough questions on its handling of the legal matters concerning the government related to the spectrum scam. In a damage control exercise, Moily had on Friday asked his top law officer, Attorney General GE Vahanvati to appear for the PM and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium for the department of telecom.
However, Vahanvati’s name has drawn a sharp reaction from Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy, who has approached the SC seeking sanction to prosecute former telecom minister A Raja and other opposition parties for the ‘conflict of interest’ in the matter.
“If he (Vahanvati) appears for giving arguments in the 2G spectrum deal on behalf of the government, I would object because he is the man who advised Raja for not sending the matter to group of ministers and cabinet for necessary approval in 2007,” Swamy said.
The BJP said it did not want to comment on the professional conduct of lawyers, but a letter written by Raja to PM on December 26, 2007, which he cited having taken an opinion from Vahanvati raised questions.