He represented Amit Shah in controversial Sohrabuddin case
Deevakar Anand | July 11, 2014 | New Delhi
Top lawyer Uday U Lalit, who represented Amit Shah in the November 2005 alleged fake police encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in Gujarat, is likely to be a new judge of the supreme court (SC).
On Wednesday, an SC collegium, a panel consisting of Justices H.L. Dattu, T.S. Thakur, Anil R. Dave and C.K. Prasad, approved Lalit’s elevation in place of the former solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium whose name was controversially sent back by the Modi government in June for reconsideration.
Subramanium said he was singled out because he was involved in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case as amicus curie and that led to murder charges against Amit Shah, Gujarat's former minister of state for home and PM Narendra Modi’s close aide.
Lalit appeared for Shah in the police encounter killing of Tulsiram Prajapati also, who was said to be an aide of Sheikh and a witness to his murder.
He was also appointed the special public prosecutor in 2011 in 2G scam cases. Besides, he has also appeared for General Vikram Singh, now a BJP MP from Ghaziabad, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and senior congress leaders SM Krishna and Captain Amarinder Singh. If appointed, Lalit will be the sixth lawyer directly elevated to a judge of the apex court.
Shah, now the BJP national president, is the former Gujarat minister of state for home and a close aide of prime minister Narendra Modi.
The unsavoury controversy over top lawyer Gopal Subramanium’s candidature for elevation as Supreme Court judge has turned out to be one of the ugliest face-off between the government and country’s highest judiciary.
In a letter, addressed to the chief justice of India RM Lodha, Subramanium had later withdrawn his consent for being a judge and accused the Modi government of "serious constitution aberration" and "orchestrated drama" for political reasons.
On July 7, chief justice of India (CJI) RM Lodha, at a farewell function for a fellow judge, called the government’s objection to Subramnium’s elevation as judge a unilateral decision on which he was not consulted. In a letter that he wrote earlier to the law ministry, he made clear his displeasure on the issue asking the government not to indulge in such unilateral acts in future without taking his consent.
Reportedly, what stalled Subramanium’s case was a CBI report to the government that cast aspersions on his role in the 2 G scam where it alleged he met scam’s prime accused and former telecom minister A Raja’s lawyer and violated protocol. Subramanium who was then the solicitor general in the UPA government has, however, denied the charge.
He has also rubbished another charge – said to be a reason for government’s denial to clear his name for judge - that he was gifted the rights to use a swimming pool at a five-star hotel in Delhi by Niira Radia, a lobbyist for some of the top telecom firms in India.
Meanwhile, besides Lalit, other recommendations by the Collegium include chief Justices Prafull Chandra Pant, of the Meghalaya high court, Abhay Manohar Sapre of the Gauhati high court and R. Banumathi, of the Jharkhand high court.
The names will be sent to the law ministry for its approval.
Four senior judges of the supreme court have publicly made serious allegations against the chief justice of India. Will it have wider impact on judicial discipline? I think so. I think the CJI will have to take note of it and rectify the mistakes he was making.
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