Former Solicitor General, Gopal Subramanium has reportedly withdrawn from the race to become Supreme Court judge due to continued remarks over his character.
The press release by him states:
Mr. Gopal Subramanium, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court and former Solicitor General of India, was invited by the Supreme Court to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. Upon his gracious invitation, Mr. Subramanium consented to be recommended for elevation. The Executive Government, however, has voiced reservation in respect of Mr. Subramanium’s appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court. Mr. Subramanium respects that reservation, however unfounded it may be. He, however, completely repudiates all the media reports which have been planted, and which contain completely false and scurrilous allegations. Further, he feels deeply let down by the fact that three names were cleared while his name was not even sent back formally for reconsideration. In these circumstances he does not consider it consistent with his notions of self-respect to be a judge of the Supreme Court. He has, accordingly, his withdrawal both orally, as well as in writing, to Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India. He has also stated that his decision is final and irrevocable.
According to CNN IBN, he also stated, “I am fully conscious that my independence as a lawyer is causing apprehensions that I will not toe the government line. This factor has been decisive in refusing to appoint me. It is sad day as the judiciary has been compromised. All charges against me are false.”
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".
A clarification had also come from Subramanium’s side, claiming that he had no such meeting and that he had made it clear in a letter addressed to the then telecom minister, Kapil Sibal in 2011.
Government’s rejection of his name for the post was also attributed to his role in blowing the lid off the Modi Government in Gujarat in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
In the fake encounter case, Subramanium had claimed that there has been a calculated attempt to obstruct justice at every stage and delay the investigation. Subramanium’s active role in the case had prompted a CBI inquiry due to glaring loopholes. The discovery of Tulsiram Prajapati and the alleged link of Amit Shah to the Sohrabuddin case were brought out before the SC when Gopal was playing an active role in the trial.
Subramanium was hurt by the media reports and claimed that. “As far as 2G case goes, I was shocked to see that the extent of criminality wasn’t revealed to me by the government on its own. I have been hurt by the kind of media reports which have appeared about me. I just wish to put it on record for you that I never ever interacted with any lawyer in the case.” He added, “I know about this conversation with Nira Radia, this actually goes in his favour, where Radia is heard saying Gopal is a decent man, he can't be handled or managed. And he is being targeted for a small thing like membership of swimming pool."
According to reports, a senior member of the Supreme Court collegium had backed the collegium’s recommendation for Subramanium’s appointment as a Supreme Court judge, stating that the former solicitor-general's "credibility and integrity" is beyond doubt. He went to the extent of stating that now the collegium should stand its ground and urge approval of Subramanium’s name.
The rejection of his name for the post has had reactions from the entire fraternity, the most prominent being the one from the former Supreme Court judge V.R. Krishna Iyer, who expressed his dismay over the Government’s stand against elevation of senior advocate Gopal Subramanium as a Supreme Court judge.
Praising Subramanium’s caliber, Iyer stated, “He is a sound lawyer with great integrity and will be a tribute to the Supreme Court Bench if he is installed as the judge of the Supreme Court of India.”
As a retired judge of the Supreme Court he regretted this measure of the Prime Minister and hoped that he will reconsider this wrong step, adding that the country cannot afford to lose a sound and splendid lawyer who will adorn the Supreme Court Bench.
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.
The Advisory Opinion of the Supreme Court in 1998 laid down the process of appointment, whereby the judiciary through its “collegiums” consisting of the Chief Justice and two or four senior judges, would propose names to the President, who then is bound by the decision of the Collegium. This procedure of appointment in effect, confers upon the judiciary the power to appoint judges of the higher courts.
Hence, if the collegium would’ve sent Subramanium’s name again for the post, the ministry will be bound to approve it. However, this withdrawal from Subramanium’s side is a loss to us. As former SC Judge Krishna Iyer puts it, to eliminate him from that post will be an indefensible disaster, a disappointment.