The displeasure of Chief Justice of India R M Lodha on the controversy surrounding withdrawal of consent by Gopal Subramanium for being appointed an apex court judge has drawn mixed reactions from experts.
The CJI has said the segregation of Subramanium’s name from the list of four persons, whose names were recommended for being made SC judges, has been done “unilaterally” by the executive without his knowledge and consent.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi said the segregation of one of the recommendations without the knowledge of the CJI and subsequently, releasing of the letter to media by Subramanium have “complicated” the situation.
“I agree with both points raised by CJI about segregation of one of the recommendations without the knowledge and consent of CJI which was improper and virtually presented a fait accompli to Supreme Court.
“Further, the public debate initiated by Gopal Subramanium by releasing his letter to the press complicated the situation as he made the collegium functus officio by withdrawing his consent to be elevated. It is a combination of the two which has resulted in the present stalemate,” he said.
While Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the issue is “closed” as the CJI has come clean by disclosing all facts to the public.
“The CJI has come clean. He has disclosed all facts to the public. He has stated that he spoke to Gopal Subramanium who said he does not want to push his candidature (for elevation to Supreme Court) any further.
“Subramanium said his withdrawal is final. The chapter is closed. The CJI disclosed everything in public, because Subramanium shared everything with the public in his letter without consulting the CJI. CJI has done a good thing by being completely transparent,” the Attorney General said.
Another senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said that the nomination of Subramanium “should not be closed”.
“I welcome what the CJI has said. Question is what is the next step. So far government ministers have criticised Gopal Subramanium, but no reports were sent to the CJI. All I want is that if a report is sent, the collegium will examine it with due care. The nomination of Subramanium should not be closed, but kept pending,” he said.
Tulsi said before segregating the file of Subramanium, “it would have been correct or proper for the government to first discuss the issue with the CJI and then get the guidance from the CJI to whether the segregation can be done or the CJI might have opted for re-consideration of the whole thing in the collegium afresh before the segregation.”
“So I believe that the segregation on its own and sending the recommendation directly to the President is incorrect and they ought to have consulted the CJI before doing that,” he said.
“Who is correct or incorrect is only known to the person concerned. But it is unfortunate that agreeing to become a judge is always a sacrifice for a lawyer as eminent as Subramanium.” He (Subramanium) can’t say anything as he is in a bind and therefore, his name was being adversely commented upon in he public media. He obviously chose to withdraw his consent and became a victim of the mud-slinging mess that was going on, Tulsi said.