Chief Justice of India, R.M. Lodha made headlines by criticizing the Government for segregating the names of the proposed candidates for elevation, without his “knowledge and consent”, at a function organized to bid farewell to Justice B.S. Chauhan, who retired recently. However, what remained unknown was that a day before this statement, he had written a letter to the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, urging that the government should not adopt such “unilateral segregation” in the future.
Conveying his displeasure with the Government over the segregation of proposed candidates for elevation to the post, CJI reportedly wrote, “I don’t approve of segregation of proposal without my knowledge and concurrence…In future, such a procedure of unilateral segregation should not be adopted by the Executive.” He further added, “You have segregated the proposal with respect to Gopal Subramanium from the other three names, which have now been referred back… Subramanium has in the meantime withdrawn his consent… He has also reiterated his withdrawal of consent… I am left with no choice but to withdraw the proposal relating to him and in view thereof, the occasion for reconsideration of the proposal relating to him by the collegium does not arise.”
In the function, CJI Lodha had stated, “On my return from abroad on June 28, a file was placed before me by the Ministry of Law and Justice, indicating that out of the four names, three proposals had been approved and the name of Gopal Subramanium was segregated. It was done unilaterally… without my knowledge and consent”. He had also expressed shock and disappointment over Subramanium making his letter of withdrawal public.
Reacting to increasing criticism of the Government action, Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had expressed respect and regard for the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India and stated, “In the process of appointments, the government has got the right to be consulted. And whatever opinion the government has given, is based upon cogent, proper and sound grounds.”
The Government had turned down Gopal Subramanium’s elevation as a Supreme Court judge on the basis of a ‘negative’ CBI report which alleged his meeting with a lawyer of 2G scam accused A Raja. Defending their recommendation, the Judge stated that, “There was nothing against him (Gopal) and all these facts, which are now being cited, were known to us. This was a unanimous decision, and everyone was so happy to recommend Gopal, he is a man of integrity”.
President Pranab Mukherjee has already given assent to the names of senior advocate Rohinton Nariman and the Chief Justices of the Calcutta and Orissa High Courts, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel respectively, for the appointment.
Read more news about the controversy here.