The Supreme Court on Friday directed that a special court on the lines of the one hearing the 2G scam cases be set up in Delhi, to exclusively hear the coal blocks allocation cases.
A bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha also decided to appoint an eminent lawyer as Special Public Prosecutor (SPP), and expressed its preference for former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium for the job.
Subramanium, whose name was among the four suggested by the parties in the case, was until recently being considered for elevation as an SC judge, but chose to opt out after the government raised objections.
“If you can convince him (Subramanium) to accept the role of special prosecutor, we will have no objection… You persuade him. If I failed in something, you (lawyers) can try to succeed,” the CJI said, apparently referring to Subramanium’s disinclination to reconsider his decision to withdraw his candidature for judgeship.
The bench also asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to use his good offices to convince Subramanium in view of the court’s concern that the person chosen for the job be “of impeccable integrity and fine legal mind”.
The CBI seemed in agreement with the court’s choice. The SG and the petitioners’ advocates, Prashant Bhushan and M L Sharma, said they would try their best to persuade Subramanium.
The SC collegium headed by the CJI had recommended four names, including that of Subramanium’s, for elevation as judges of the apex court, but the government cleared only three: the Chief Justices of the Calcutta and Orissa High Courts, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goyal respectively, and senior lawyer Rohinton Nariman.
On June 25, Subramanium withdrew his consent, attacking the government and complaining that the judiciary had failed to “assert its independence by respecting likes and dislikes of the Executive”.
Subsequently, at a function, the CJI had expressed disapproval of the government’s move, but had also criticised Subramanium for allowing the contents of his letter to be published in the media.
On Friday, the bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, asked the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to nominate a judge to deal with the coal blocks allocation cases, and communicate the decision by July 25.
In a separate hearing, the court agreed to examine the Centre’s request to transfer to the apex court all coal blocks cases that relate to mining licences. The court issued notices to all the companies that have filed petitions in the high courts.