'Rajiv Gandhi offered me post of apex court judge'
Had former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi had his way, Somnath Chatterjee would have been a Supreme Court judge and not Lok Sabha Speaker. Nagendar Sharma reports.delhi Updated: Aug 03, 2010 23:47 IST
Had former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi had his way, Somnath Chatterjee would have been a Supreme Court judge and not Lok Sabha Speaker.
In his book titled Keeping the Faith, Chatterjee (80) has written that he was offered the post twice when Rajiv was the Prime Minister between 1984 and 1989.
In the last chapter Colleagues and Comrades, the veteran parliamentarian mentions the offer made to him following his victory in a Lok Sabha byelection in 1985.
"During Rajiv Gandhi's prime ministership, my friend Shiv Shankar, who was then law minister, approached me with a surprising offer of judgeship of the Supreme Court. I did not pay much attention since I felt it was not serious," Chatterjee has written on page 243.
"Of course I had no intention of joining the judiciary. But I found Shiv Shankar was insistent and explained to me that Rajiv Gandhi was very keen that I become a Supreme Court judge."
The 10-time Lok Sabha MP, who was expelled from the CPM in 2008 following his refusal to quit as Speaker when his party withdrew support to the UPA, wrote, "I still do not know why Rajiv was so keen…It could be either because of his understanding of my apparent knowledge of law or because he wanted to get rid of me from the Parliament."
Till 1993, the government had a say in the appointment of judges, which led to a Supreme Court judgment transferring the power to a panel of seniormost judges in the country (Supreme Court collegium).
Chatterjee, whose book will be released on August 21 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has lavished praise on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul.
"Sonia Gandhi has shown remarkable dignity and an exemplary attitude as leader of the Congress party, leader of opposition and UPA chairperson," he wrote.