Friday, May 13, 2016

Jaitley's "outburst" against judiciary suggests he is feeling sidelined under Modi: Ex-Gujarat BJP CM Suresh Mehta

By Our Representative
In a scathing letter to Union finance minister Jaitley, former BJP chief minister of Gujarat, Suresh Mehta, has said that Jaitley’s recent outpourings (click HERE) against thejudiciary is the direct result of what he calls BJP’s “flamboyant Rajya Sabha MP” Subramaniam Swamy’s attacks on him.
“Shocked” to read Jaitley’s statement in the Rajya Sabha (May 11, 2016), where he said that the judiciary is destroying the edifice of India’s legislature “step by step, brick by brick”, Mehta, in his four-page letter to Jaitley, release to media, says, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears keen to pit Swamy against you.”
Recalling how Swamy recently alleged in a recent TV interview that Jaitley was trying to “undermine the investigation into AugustaWesland chopper scam” amidst reports that Swamy may be replaced as India’s finance minister, Mehta tells Jaitley, “I wonder if you are feeling nervous."
Mehta – who became compromise Gujarat chief minister in October 1995 following a rebellion against the then chief minister Keshubhai Patel, led by current Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela and reportedly engineered by Narendra Modi – resigned from the BJP in December 2007.
Mehta says in his letter, “Your statement particularly acquires significance as it comes one day after the BJP lost the floor test in Uttarakhand, thanks to Supreme Court intervention.”
Regretting that the statement accusing the judiciary has come from “an eminent and perceptive Supreme Court advocate”, Mehta, who has been a lawyer by profession, says, “It is not the judiciary which is seeking to undermine the executive or the legislature. Rather, it is the executive, led by Modi, which is seeking to destroy the independence of judiciary.”
Providing instances, Mehta says, its first indication was in April 2015, when the Prime Minister told a joint conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts that India’s courts “need to be cautious against perception-driven verdicts", accusing “five star activists" of being the resource persons for providing material for such verdicts.
“Modi’s statement on ‘perception-driven verdict’ came just around the time when clean chit was sought to be given to BJP president Amit Shah, one of the prime accused in two of the most notorious fake encounter cases of Gujarat -- Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Ishrat Jahan”, Mehta says.
“The whole effort of the Prime Minister was to drive home the point that the judiciary should not go by the ‘perception’ supposedly held by activists that a criminal politician, who acts behind the scene, is responsible for crimes committed on the ground”, Mehta says.
In a second instance, Mehta says, the Modi government has been “stalling the appointment of around 170 judges to High Courts, recommended by the Supreme Court collegium”, with the perception having gone strong that “this is happening because the Supreme Court struck down its efforts to take under it wings all the powers of appointing judges through a National Judicial Appointments Commission.”
“Clearly, the government appears not very keen to allow smooth functioning of the Supreme Court collegium, which has the powers to appoint judges. In fact, it wants to have a say in recommending names of candidates, insisting that the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointing judges”, Mehta says, referring to recent reports on government’s suggestions for MoP.

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