Chief Justice Lodha anguished over Subramanium affair

The stymieing of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium's candidature for a Supreme Court judgeship by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has drawn criticism from the Chief Justice of India, the apex arbiter of the Constitution.

Chief Justice R M Lodha, a judge of widely-acknowledged integrity and intellect, said today that the "segregation was unilaterally done by government without my knowledge and consent", adding that he would never allow the "independence of the judiciary [to] be compromised".

At the same time, he said he was disappointed that he [Subramanium]went public with his grievances when he [Justice Lodha] himself was abroad.

Earlier reports were almost explicit that Subramanium's candidature was rejected by the government in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee, even as they cleared other candidates.

Subramanium had recently withdrawn his candidature for SC judge on grounds of ''honour and dignity''.

In a letter to Chief Justice Lodha, Subramaniam wrote, "I am fully conscious that my independence as a lawyer is causing apprehensions that I will not toe the government line. This factor has been decisive in refusing to appoint me."

Subramanium along with senior counsel Rohinton Nariman and chief justices of two high courts were recommended for appointment as the judge of the Supreme Court. The government cleared all names except his.