NEW DELHI: Smarting under Supreme Court’s stinging observations, government Friday replaced Solicitor General, Mr Gopal Subramanium with Attorney General, Mr Ghulam Vahanvati to appear on behalf of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum issue saying he has to be "properly represented."
Mr Vahanvati, who will represent the Prime Minister in the case on a petition filed by Janata Party president, Mr Swamy seeking sanction of prosecution of Mr A Raja, will present the affidavit to be filed on behalf of Dr Manmohan Singh in the court on Saturday.
The decision to replace Mr Subramaniam comes in the wake of embarrassing comments made by the Court on the alleged inaction of the Prime Minister on Mr Swamy’s petition for sanction of prosecution of the former minister. The Court on Thursday sought filing of an affidavit on behalf of the Prime Minister on the correspondence between Dr Singh and Mr Swamy on his demand.
Mr Vahanvati said he has been asked by the government to represent the Prime Minister while the Solicitor General said it was not a question of replacement but of "better representation."
Mr Swamy said he has no objection to Mr Vahanvati appearing on behalf of the Prime Minister but it would be a violation of law if he speaks on the spectrum issue. "Because Raja has written a letter to PM on December 26 saying that he got the advice from the Solicitor General, which Vahanvati was then," Mr Swamy told reporters.
However, the AG brushed aside any conflict of interest saying he has not given any opinion on 2G spectrum or appeared for the former Telecom minister, Mr Raja. "I did not appear for Raja. I appeared for Department of Telecom before TDSAT and once before the Delhi High Court," Mr Vahanvati said.
Explaining the decision to rope in AG, Law Minister Mr Veerappa Moily said it was done to ensure that the Prime Minister was "properly represented." While the Solicitor General will represent the Department of Telecom, Additional Solicitor General Mr Haren Raval will represent the Central Bureau of Investigation. "Now it is a different case. Since the SG was present, he represented (the PM). Now we are making a pucca case," Mr Moily said. He sought to downplay the replacement of Mr Subramanium saying he was an "important person and brilliant lawyer. You must not read between that (change)."
Senior cabinet ministers and Congress leaders came out openly to defend the Prime Minister on Friday. The new Telecom Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal said, "The Prime Minister is such a person against whom we cannot even point a finger. Swami’s move is to gain political mileage. The Prime Minister had already given reply to Swami. The AICC general secretary, Mr Rahul Gandhi said there was no need for the Prime Minister to be embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Congress top brass, including the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is expected to devise strategy on Sunday on how to break the logjam in Parliament over the opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2G spectrum controversy. The Congress Core Group is likely to meet for the second time in a week to deliberate on the issue which has paralysed Parliament for six days, virtually turning the first two weeks of the winter session into a washout.
Meanwhile, government sources ruled out early sine die adjournment of the session in view of the stalemate. The ruling party is averse to the demand for a JPC feeling that yielding to the demand could make the opposition more aggressive. With no solution in sight, senior leader Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who is trying to find a way out, appealed to all parties to help end the deadlock.
The government on Friday ruled out JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam and insisted that the matter could be looked into by the Public Accounts Committee. Parliament witnessed uproar with unrelenting opposition bent upon its demand for a JPC, an issue which has remained a bone of contention between the rival sides. During the last two weeks, the Lok Sabha has functioned for one day on November 9 when the winter session began.