Outgoing Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran Monday said there was “immense pressure” on law officers like him from various government quarters in “sensitive cases”.
“I have to be frank. Yes, there were attempts to interfere. Immense pressure was there, especially in sensitive matters. But, I think this was more of coalition politics,” Parasaran said in response to a question about whether the law officers faced any pressure from government quarters or politicians in important cases.
He was talking to The Indian Express over phone from Chennai. He further said it was difficult for a person like him to work as a law officer in the government — first as an additional solicitor general and then as solicitor general — due to pulls and pressures from various quarters.
“It was a miracle that I survived 10 years as a law officer in the Central government. There is no proper system, sometimes briefs get delivered at the last minute and there are no instructions on what to do. Many a time, the administrative ministry concerned would not even be aware that its matter was coming up for hearing on a particular day. Sometimes, there were four different options that we were told to follow, each one coming from different functionaries in the government. I blame it on the necessities of coalition,” the senior lawyer said.
Talking about the Vodafone tax case — he argued the Income-Tax department’s case before the Bombay High Court — Parasaran termed the Supreme Court judgment as erroneous. On January 20, 2012, the Supreme Court set aside a Bombay High Court judgment asking Vodafone to pay Rs 11,000 crore as tax on the Hutchison deal.
“I feel the Supreme Court didn’t properly take into account the scope of Section 9 of the Income-Tax Act. That is why I say it is an erroneous judgment. But, the problem was also that different law officers resorted to different arguments before different judicial fora. Having said that, I also feel that the government reaction to the judgment in passing retrospective amendments to Section 9 was a knee-jerk reaction and should have been avoided,” he added.