2G verdict delay not intentional: Justice Ganguly



New Delhi: Justice A K Ganguly, who was part of a Supreme Court bench that delivered landmark judgements on 2G cases, refused to take the onus for the delay saying they were reserved by Justice G S Singhvi who had to take the call as a senior judge of the bench.

However, Ganguly, who demitted office after delivering the judgements on the grant of sanction for prosecution of former telecom minister A Raja and cancellation of 122 licences, said the delay was "not intentional" as judges worked under "tremendous pressure".

The judgements were pronounced after being reserved for more than a year and for 11 months respectively.

"Now these two judgements were heard by a bench of Justice Singhvi and me. But both the judgements were reserved by my learned senior colleague Justice Singhvi.

"I can tell you if the judgements had been reserved by me it would have been delivered long ago," Justice Ganguly said in an interview to a TV channel.

When asked whether he was determined to deliver the verdict before his retirement on February 2, Justice Ganguly said, "Yes, otherwise there would have been a huge loss of time.

"Because these cases can't be dismissed off the cuff. These cases were heard. At least more than 30 hearing days were devoted. So judicial time is so precious, I would have felt very sad and people would have criticised if these judgements were not delivered," he said.

He said suspicion on the delay and timing of the verdicts was "absolutely" unwarranted. "Judges are under tremendous pressure especially in Supreme Court. So as a result of the pressure it must have been delayed. I am sure the delay is not intentional," Justice Ganguly said and ruled out the speculation that there was also the possibility that he would have retired without delivering the judgements.

"Well I understand that the judgement had to be delivered during my tenure since I was a party to the bench. I was retiring on February 2, 2012. That date can't be altered. So I thought that it is better to deliver the judgement than to keep it undelivered.

"In my tenure as a judge in 18 years I have not kept any judgement undelivered which were reserved by me," he said.

Responding to a query whether the propositions in his verdicts on auctioning of natural resources were absolute, Justice Ganguly said the ruling in the judgement were in accordance with the facts of the 2G case.

"There are no such absolute propositions. All propositions in the facts of the case were discussed," he said adding it was thought that auction was the only viable option.The ruling for auction was only in the context of spectrum, he said.

"There is room for discretion in every case. Discretion is the life blood of any judicial decision. There can't be any straight jacket," justice Ganguly said.

On a question that observations against Raja were made even though Raja was not represented before the bench, Justice Ganguly said Raja was defended before the apex court through the government lawyers. "I don't think so (that Raja was not defended). There is a trial going on where he has all the opportunity to prove his innocence. Here we were considering the matter on a question of executive decision.

"The decision of the minister concerned was defended by the government so it's nothing personal. It was a decision of the government and he happened to be the minister and therefore he was defended. The ministry was defended and he acted as a minister," he said.

"It was open to him to defend himself (before the apex court). He had that option and the court had never shut out anybody," he added.

He also rejected the suggestion that the 2G verdict had prejudiced Raja's case before the trial court. "The court is a court. We have made it clear that these findings are for the purpose of official business.

The criminal case is slightly different. It goes on a different perspective. There he is entitled to take his defence. "There is nothing what is called as junior or senior judge. He (trial court judge) is doing his duty.

Every judge is independent and we have made it clear that it (apex court verdict on 2G) is not to affect it (the trial). That is how judiciary functions," he said.

He said "the trial is an independent trial and after the trial he has all the opportunities of going to the higher courts".

On a question relating to legality of licences awarded between 2001 and 2007 he said that It was not challenged before the court. "Every judgement has a territory. Things that were before the court were considered. Things that were not before the court were not considered," he said.

On a suggestion that the 2G judgement has created a doubt in the minds of foreign investors, Justice Ganguly said that everybody entering into a contract in India has to follow the law of the land.

"This is not the first that a contract is quashed, There is nothing new. There are many many aspects of a contract. It has happened in the past it may happen in future. "Every contract has certain parameters, legal parameters. Whenever anybody comes to enter into a contract in this country, the law of the land has to be obeyed," he said.

To a question on the principle of collective cabinet responsibility, he said Raja had not followed the principle and had acted on his own so only he is to be blamed.

PTI