The resignation of two Solicitor Generals (SG), within the space of a few months, may not be a remarkable thing considering the fact that there have been three Union Law Ministers during the same period.
However, it is the manner of the country’s second topmost law officers’ exit which has caused concern. And on top of this, Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar appears to be on a collision course with Attorney General(AG) Goolam Vahanvati.
Vahanvati has so far shown no outward signs of any discomfort with the new Law Minister, but the latter’s style of functioning may be a little too brusque for the senior lawyers. It could also be a case of ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’.
“It’s possible that too many top bracket lawyers in the Cabinet have too many strong views on all subjects,” says a former Additional Solicitor General (ASG).
In fact, there are at least five top lawyers in the Manmohan Singh Government -- two of them former ASGs themselves -- and they have their own fixed ideas on the functioning of the legal system and the issues which should take precedence. Besides the three Law Ministers in the UPA-II, there are Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram in the mix. Add to it their own personal preferences and the system is likely to feel the pressure.
While Gopal Subramaniam’s resignation was expected after Nariman had been roped in by Telecom Minister Sibal to represent the Centre in the 2G case. As for the exit of Nariman himself, he was apparently peeved at being asked to appear at a Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal(TDSAT) trial, which is often handled by the ASGs. He is also said to have had several tiffs with Ashwani since the latter took over as the Union Law Minister in October.
The Law Minister is also believed to be more comfortable working with the ASGs. Incidentally, the UPA-II has appointed the maximum number of ASGs --13 at the last count, besides 7 others who take care of the cases in the various High Courts. The number of ASGs had been limited to nine by the previous governments.