Monday, July 11, 2011

The Curious Case of the Upset Law Officer

The Solicitor General was recently miffed because a private lawyer was used by the government to defend Minister Kapil Sibal and the Attorney General against an allegation made by Mr. Prashant Bhushan relating to the allegedly improper reduction of fines against ADAG. The SG suddenly goes all over town resigning curiously discovering a new found affection for Her Excellency the President and even paid her a visit. He believes that the dignity of his office is under threat. However, it seems to be quite a bleated realization. For instance, Mr. Fali Nariman represented the Union in the Ram Setu case while the current SG was still in office. Only today Mr. Harish Salve represented the Delhi Police in the Ramdev matter. So then what is the hue and cry about?

In my view the real story that lies in between is of conflict and a lack of trust. A section of the Ministers of the government and the Attorney General himself don’t trust the SG. Besides, it does not seem like the Union is being represented in a manner dictated by the political bosses of the government rather than the qualified law officers. That to my mind is the real conflict. In any case there were several instances in which the government came out of the Supreme Court with its nose bleeding when there was no case for them or something was so palpably wrong. Take the CVC case, the bench gave adequate warning to the SG to save face for the government and retreat rather than defend the indefensible only to have a high level executive appointment declared to be non est. These are the pressing issues for the government’s law officers. They must be allowed to represent the government that is according to a well thought legal strategy. Irrespective this great projection of a standoff is unsavory and this in fact endangers the office of the Solicitor General of India. If he felt he wasn’t being listened to, he should have put in his papers and gone.

All this is demonstrable evidence of the sway within government. A sense of confusion prevails wherein nothing moves while the leadership is in a contest of long silence. Ministers don’t trust ministers, get each other bugged, ministers don’t trust law officers, law officers don’t trust each other. I shudder to think even if they trust themselves any more. I hope the PM’s dentist has a better time opening his mouth for a checkup then the people have been for answers.