NEW DELHI: In an assertion that may pitch the government and the top judiciary head-on, Chief Justice of India R.M.Lodha Tuesday said that the government acted unilaterally in segregating the name of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium from the panel of four names recommended by the collegium for appointment as apex court judges.
Chief Justice Lodha made this disclosure at a function organised to bid farewell to Justice B.S.Chauhan upon his retirement Tuesday.
"The segregation (of Subramanium's name) was unilaterally done by the executive (government) without my knowledge and consent," Chief Justice Lodha said at the function.
The apex court collegium had recommended four names including that of another former solicitor general Rohinton Nariman for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court but the government, while clearing three names, returned the name of Subramanium for reconsideration by the collegium.
While Chief Justice Lodha expressed his dismay with the government segregating Subramanium's name and returning his recommendation, he also expressed regret over Subramanium jumping the gun and releasing to the media a letter written to him while he was abroad.
He said that he had asked Subramanium to wait for him to return and deal with the matter.
Chief Justice Lodha said that soon after reaching Delhi, he had a 75 minute meeting with Subramanium and asked him to reconsider his letter withdrawing his consent to be a judge of the top court.
"Subramanium told me that he would get back the next day but instead he sent a brief letter expressing his inability to revisit his decision to withdraw the consent" he said.
"Independence of judiciary will never be compromised," Chief Justice Lodha assured the members of the bar present at the function as he referred to the excerpts of Subramanium's letter wherein the latter had said: "I am, however, unable to dispel the sense of unease that the judiciary has failed to assert its independence by respecting the likes and dislikes of the executive."
Describing as "shocking" the allegation of independence of the judiciary being compromised, Chief Justice Lodha said that he will not sit on the chair of CJI even for a minute if the independence of the judiciary was compromised.
Saying that he was a fierce upholder of the independence of the judiciary, he said that he had worked for the institution first as a judge of a high court, then of the apex court and now as the Chief Justice of India.
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