The uneasy relationship between the UPA 2 and its top law officers once again reached a flashpoint on Monday with the resignation of solicitor general Rohinton Nariman, barely 18 months after his appointment.
Rohinton, son of eminent jurist Fali S Nariman, is the fifth law officer to opt out of the government’s legal team since UPA returned to power in May 2009. There have also been three law ministers in the past four years.
Though Nariman remained unavailable for comments and law minister Ashwani Kumar tried to downplay the controversy and wished Nariman “all the best for the future”, HT has learnt that the resignation was a culmination of growing tension between the two since Kumar succeeded Salman Khurshid as law minister.
Nariman, the second highest ranking law officer after the attorney general, sent his resignation directly to the PM, an indication of how relations between the two had soured. Sources said Nariman was unhappy with ministry directions asking him to represent the government in lower courts and tribunals.
Nariman was also upset at being asked to get his legal opinions vetted by the ministry before finalising them.
Matters reportedly took a turn for the worse following a heated exchange between the two. Nariman is understood to have raised the matter to at least two senior ministers before he put in his papers.
Nariman is the second solicitor general to have resigned in the last 18 months. His predecessor, Gopal Subramanium had quit in July 2011 to protest the government's decision to bypass him in a matter related to the 2G spectrum allocation scam in the Supreme Court.
Apart from the two, additional solicitors general Parag Tripathi, Vivek Tankha and Biswajit Bhattacharya bid goodbye to the government and returned to private practice.
Names of additional solicitor generals Mohan Parasaran, Harin Raval and Indira Jaising are doing the rounds as possible successors to Nariman.