Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: While Congress and BJP continue to spar over former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, whose name was segregated from the list of four people to be made Supreme Court judges, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reportedly upset with the controversy.
Reports, Thursday, said that the Prime Minister does not want his government to face criticisim for encroaching upon the independence of the judiciary. However, it still insists that it has the right to reconsider names for appointments to highest offices.
In its defence, the government is believed to have cited the case of former law minister Veerappa Moily who reconsidered senior lawyer CK Prasad`s name. The government added that Gopal Subramanium resigned on his own and if the Supreme Court wanted, it could have suggested his name again and the government would have abided by it.
The Congress, however, has demanded an apology from the Prime Minister over the issue. "It`s unprecedented for a judge to come out and speak in this manner. The Prime Minister should come out and apologise," Moily said.
The Congress yesterday launched a scathing attack on the BJP, saying it lacked respect for the judiciary`s independence and impartiality, while the ruling party reaffirmed its commitment to the apex court.
"The government action speaks nothing except prejudice," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, alluding to the hasty manner in which former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam`s name was segregated from the list of four people to be made Supreme Court judges.
Former union law minister M. Veerappa Moily alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was in confrontation with the judiciary, which was "unprecedented".
"There was no consultation at all. The decision was taken unilaterally and arbitrarily without even an informal consultation with the chief justice of India," Moily told the media here.
"It`s a confrontation between the government and the judiciary with no precedence at all."
BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad refuted the allegations.
"We have the highest respect and regard for the institution of judiciary. We are fully committed to the freedom of judiciary," Prasad said.
Singhvi, however, pointed out that there were examples galore in the history of Indian politics where the BJP made petty allegations against constitutional bodies or authorities.
"The BJP government had in the past removed a sitting navy chief. The BJP cannot tolerate any dissenting voices. The (Narendra) Modi government does not believe in the judiciary`s independence and that is evident in the developments of the last one month," he told the media here.
He said the BJP`s opposition to Subramaniam stemmed from the fact that he had approved the appointment of an amicus curiae against Modi.
"Here is a man (Modi) with elephantine memory who neither forgets nor forgives," Singhvi said, hinting that Subramaniam was being targeted.
Prasad countered the allegation, claiming that the government has the right to be "consulted" before an apex court judge is appointed.
"In the process of appointment of judges, the government has got the right to be consulted. Whatever opinion the government has given is based upon sound grounds," the minister said.
The controversy erupted after the government segregated the name of Subramaniam from the panel of four names recommended by the collegium for appointment as apex court judges.
Subramaniam withdrew his candidature for the judge`s post on June 25 following media reports which said the NDA government was objecting to his appointment as a Supreme Court judge because of his "links" with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and a "negative" report by the Central Bureau of Investigation.