Former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, appointed by the Supreme Court in the Padmanabhaswamy temple case, has withdrawn as amicus curiae, citing personal reasons and prior engagements.
His office has also sought to hand over all documents in connection with the case to the court registry. The August 4 letter has requested the court to discontinue his services as the amicus curiae.
Notably, Subramanium was appointed as amicus by a bench led by Justice R M Lodha in August 2012. His withdrawal comes close on the heels of the controversy surrounding Subramanium’s elevation as a judge of the Supreme Court.
While his name was recommended by the collegium, headed by CJI Lodha, the government had flagged a negative report, damning the senior advocate’s credibility and competence. The Centre “unilaterally segregated” him from a list of four names recommended by the SC collegium.
Subsequently, in a strong-worded letter dated June 25, Subramanium alleged that the government feared he would not toe their line and hence it ran a propaganda to mark him as “unsuitable” for elevation.
He also complained about the judiciary’s failure to “assert its independence by respecting the likes and dislikes of the executive”, and appealed to the CJI for a “suitable introspection”.
Later, at a public function, CJI Lodha had said that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” when Subramanium made his letter public although he asked him to wait till his return on June 28.
Subsequently on July 18, a bench led by CJI Lodha had asked all parties in the coal block allocation cases to “persuade” Subramanium to act as the Special Public Prosecutor for the cases to be tried by a special court.
But merely a day after the court wished to know his views, Subramanium declined to take up the job, citing prior engagements and a busy itinerary. The court had to then appoint senior advocate R S Cheema as prosecutor for coal block cases.
Significantly, Subramanium’s report in the case had brought back the spotlight on the Padmanabhaswamy temple and its treasure trove. His report disclosed that he found a gold plating machine inside the temple, suggesting stealth in an organised manner “by the highest echelons”.
Acting on this report, the court had ordered a special audit of the temple and its treasure trove by former CAG Vinod Rai.
During a hearing, Justice Lodha had stopped a counsel from doubting Subramanium’s acumen in view of his “immense affinity towards Shree Padmanabhaswamy.”
The temple case is listed on Wednesday before a bench led by Justice T S Thakur, suggesting the CJI has released this matter from his board.