The Ministry of External Affairs has slammed the Law Ministry for its casual handling of the ongoing dispute in the Delhi High Court on who will organise this year’s Haj.
External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, has conveyed his displeasure to Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, on the absence of top government lawyers during a court hearing in the sensitive matter on July 26.
Krishna, in a series of letter exchanges with Moily, is understood to have gone to the extent of having asked the law ministry “to make arrangements to hire senior Supreme Court lawyer KK Venu-gopal to represent the MEA in such sensitive cases to replace the government’s law officers”.
Nearly 1.6 lakh Indians go to annual Muslim pilgrimage.
Moily has assured Krishna of appropriate action and is learnt to have pulled up an Additional Solicitor General, representing the government in the Delhi HC.
The MEA is miffed that the case was handed over to a junior lawyer.
Sources said Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium has been directed by Moily to represent the government in the case. “Subramanium, who appeared in the case at an earlier stage, has been asked to be present in the high court on all hearings in the case,” said the source.
Delhi HC, which is hearing a petition challenging the elections to the Haj Committee, had directed the MEA on July 26 nominate anyone except those who have participated in the election for the National Haj Committee in March, to look into the arrangements for this year’s Haj pilgrimage.
Congress leader, Mohsina Kidwai was elected the Haj Committee chairperson on March 10, but the court barred her along with her two deputies from taking over, following alleged irregularities in the election.
The court direction last week followed a submission by the MEA that a non-Muslim was not allowed in Mecca at the time of Haj, and the court’s previous order in May to nominate the Joint Secretary in MEA, Rajiv K. Chandra, a Hindu, to oversee the preparation had put the government in difficulty.
The MEA informed the court that there was no Muslim officer of Joint Secretary rank in the ministry available who would take care of the arrangements.
Though the matter is listed for hearing on September 8, the government is likely to move an application this week itself.
Minister vs Minister
1. July 28: SM Krishna shoots off a letter to M. Veerappa Moily expressing strong displeasure on how the govt lawyers have handled the case
2. Moily speaks to Krishna; assures action
3. July 29: Moily pulls up top law officers for their absence from the case. He discusses the matter with a Jt-Secy in MEA
4. July 30 : Krishna writes a second letter to Moily suggesting K.K.Venugopal’s name as MEA lawyer
5. July 30: Moily replies to Krishna saying he has no objection and would proceed with the name