Union law and justice minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday appeared to be defending West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on her controversial comment that the judiciary can be bought.
Interacting with the media in New Delhi, a reluctant Khurshid said that Banerjee was a senior political leader and a chief minister of a state, and it was necessary to examine the context in which she had made her comment.
He further said that for all practical purposes, she may have made the comment to protect the judiciary from unacceptable practices.
Jurists and legal experts had earlier on Wednesday taken umbrage over Banerjee's comment that verdicts issued in the courts of the country could be bought.
Banerjee went on to state that she was ready to be charged with defamation and be arrested for contempt of court over the comment.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee talks to governor MK Narayanan in Kolkata. PTI
Cutting across party lines political leaders asked her to withdraw her comment.
Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee reacted sharply, saying that action should indeed be taken against Mamata and that her comments should be dismissed.
Mamata had said: "What I see. Why should many judgements today be delivered for money? Why? I am sorry to say. I am saying this in the Assembly," she alleged while speaking at a seminar in the House on the platinum jubilee of the state assembly.
"Judiciary is for doing justice. But why is there a pillar of corruption starting from judiciary to democracy? This is our misfortune," the feisty Trinamool Congress leader said.
"One may file a contempt case against me. I will be really very happy. I may be charged with defamation and I may even be arrested. But I will have to give my opinion at some place or the other," the chief minister who was not an empanelled speaker at the seminar, said.
She had requested speaker Biman Banerjee to allow her to speak and was granted permission to speak at the seminar 'Executive Accountability to the Parliament/Legislature'.
"Why will justice weep in a corner and suffer?" she asked.
Questioning the efficacy and accountability of judicial commissions, the chief minister said "attempts are being systematically made to destroy constitutional structures.
"We honour judicial commissions, committees and constitutional agencies ... So much money is spent on these commissions, but the only thing they do is talk to higher officials and do nothing," she added.
"The commissions summon the chief secretary, the home secretary, the DGP, the commissioner of police and they are made to sit for 12 hours," she alleged.
"How is that only politicians and executives will have accountability and others not? Everybody should be accountable. One is identified and not the other. This is not correct," she asked.