SC rejects govt's move to remove Venugopal as CBI, ED counsel

Supreme Court on Wednesday disapproved the government's move to remove senior advocate K K Venugopal as a counsel for CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the 2G spectrum allocation scam matter, saying he would continue assist the court on the probe which was at the fag end.

PTI| Updated: Sep 09, 2015, 22:29 PM IST

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Wednesday disapproved the government's move to remove senior advocate K K Venugopal as a counsel for CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the 2G spectrum allocation scam matter, saying he would continue assist the court on the probe which was at the fag end.

"We need you to assist us. We will tell them (Centre). We know how to tell them," a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said when the issue of Venugopal's removal was raised.

During the brief hearing, the bench also said "we want you to continue assisting us as amicus (curiae) if not as CBI counsel."

Venugopal, who was recently conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, said he did not want to continue as a lawyer in the case and referred to the communication he had received from an Under Secretary level officer from the Revenue Department about his removal.

However, he later gave in to the insistence of the bench that it will not let him go and said he has no option but to assist.

"The CBI probe is practically over except the Aircel- Maxis case with regard to Chidambaram and all," he said.

"Since we are coming to the final stage, can you not assist us," the bench asked him and then said, "We request Shri K K Venugopal, the respected senior counsel, to continue to assist us in the matter by appearing for CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. We direct the CBI and the ED to continue instructing Venugopal."

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO CPIL, supported the stand of the apex court and said Venugopal, who has dealt with the matter since the beginning, was required to continue, a view also shared by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

"I support and want Venugopal to continue," Swamy, who has filed a plea seeking further probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal relating to the alleged role of then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in giving it FIPB clearance, said.

"We also support that," the bench said and recalled the passage of an order by which the government was stopped from repatriating ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, who was in the team probing money laundering offences related to the 2G scam, to his parent cadre.

Earlier too, Venugopal had told the apex court that he will not be appearing in future for the agency.

He had made the statement before the bench headed by the CJI which mentioned a media report in this regard when the senior advocate was appearing in a different matter.