Defending the rejection of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium’s candidature as a Supreme Court judge, the government has said it was not questioning his “professional capabilities” but his “suitability” in the context of mounting evidence against him.
Top law ministry sources told Hindustan Times that Subramanium’s candidature was rejected in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee in the past week while clearing Rohington Nariman, Justices AK Mishra and AK Goyal for elevation as apex court judges.
The ministry also refuted allegations that it violated the Supreme Court-laid framework to appoint judges. Jurists have questioned the three appointments on the ground that the executive could not have isolated Subramanium’s case. All the four files, they added, should have been sent back to the SC collegium for a final decision.
The ministry pointed out two instances where the government in 2009 withheld the appointment of one of the prospective candidates to the SC. “There are not less than four precedents in the J&K high court, Allahabad HC, Andhra Pradesh HC and Madras HC where the names were segregated on the basis of an adverse Intelligence Bureau report,” said a senior official.
“If Gopal Subramanium is calling himself an independent judge, isn’t he casting aspersions on those whose names have been forwarded to the Chief Justice?” the top official asked.
The Modi government rejected Subramanium’s name as both the IB and CBI independently confirmed that the ex-SG had called a meeting of CBI officers in the 2G case along with accused and then telecom minister A Raja’s counsel. Also, the CBDT confirmed the authenticity of phone intercepts involving corporate lobbyist Nira Radia and others to secure the complimentary use of a swimming pool in a luxury hotel for Subramanium.
But Subramanium has denied the allegations of holding a meeting with CBI officers and Raja’s counsel or seeking any favours from Radia. “I got a call from the hotel staff (for using the pool) but I turned down the offer,” he said.