Uday U Lalit As SC Judge: Why We Must Look Beyond ‘˜Amit Shah’ Angle

Lalit was special public prosecutor in 2G spectrum scam case. His appointment was made by Supreme Court despite UPA government’s opposition.

The Supreme Court collegium has cleared the elevation of senior advocate Uday U Lalit as a Supreme Court judge. The collegiums, headed by Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, on Wednesday cleared his elevation along with the elevation of three Chief Justices of High Courts, including one woman judge.

The collegium, which included Justices H.L. Dattu, T.S. Thakur, Anil R. Dave and C.K. Prasad, approved the elevation of Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court Prafull Chandra Pant; Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court Abhay Manohar Sapre and Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court R. Banumathi besides Lalit.

Lalit, a leading lawyer, had appeared for the BJP president Amit Shah in the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati. He had also appeared for Hasan Ali Khan, the Pune businessman accused of money laundering and a number of other leading criminal cases.

While the media chose to look it as a case of elevation of ‘Amit Shah’s lawyer’ to a controversial judicial post, it forgot to see that the Supreme Court itself has shown confidence in Lailt, time and again.

Lalit, who hails from Maharashtra, has been practising in the apex court since 1986. He worked with the former Attorney-General, Soli J. Sorabjee, from 1986 to 1992.

When CBI was investigating the 2G spectrum scam case and had to file a petition in the court, it knocked Lalit’s door for every senior lawyer had taken up the case of companies involved in the scam, or were employed by the corporate houses under CBI’s scanner.

Initially, Lalit was reluctant to take up the case. Also, the UPA government, then at centre, had voiced its discomfort about Lalit’s appointment as the special public prosecutor, claiming that he was not eligible to be appointed for such a post. The Centre had pointed out that he was not eligible to fight the case as it required him to have worked under a state or central government for at least seven years.

The Supreme Court had shot down the objection, noting that it was too technical.

The CBI, and the Enforcement Directorate too, soon convinced Lalit to take up the case in public interest and despite the opposition from the UPA government, he was appointed as the special public prosecutor by the Supreme Court.

It should be noted that the same CBI’s ‘negative’ report had stalled former Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanium’s elevation as Supreme Court judge – a space which Lalit will fill soon.

Given the times in which we have a dearth of good professionals and a country where most of the leading lawyers are either politicians or friends with them, it becomes immensely difficult not to find any link. Scruitinising and showing concern is fine, but to harp on it without reason is unnecessary.

If at all the conspiracy theories have to be generated, the people crying foul may probe why Lalit is a CBI, ED and Supreme Court darling.

The recommendations would be sent to the Union Law Ministry in a couple of days. Let’s hope that Lalit remains impartial as the judiciary is expected to be.

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