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Overruling Govt, SC orders appointment of 2G prosecutor

Overruling Govt, SC orders appointment of 2G prosecutor

Author: Abraham Thomas
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 12, 2011
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/331124/Overruling-Govt-SC-orders-appointment-of-2G-prosecutor.html

In its attempt to insulate the 2G scam probe from possible Government influence, the Supreme Court on Monday differed with the Centre and appointed senior advocate UU Lalit as special public prosecutor to conduct the multi-crore 2G scam trial.

Usurping the power of the Centre to appoint a public prosecutor under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PML) Act, the bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly felt that in case of such a magnitude, the appointment of public prosecutor assumes significance.

About Lalit, the bench recorded that none of the parties - CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Centre or petitioner, had anything to doubt his high standards of integrity, ability and legal acumen acquired through his longstanding career in the Supreme Court. Even previously, he served on the State panel of Maharashtra for more than 10 years, the bench noted.

In its order pronounced on Monday, the bench, however, agreed to allow Lalit to appoint two assistant prosecutors to be selected from the panel of lawyers maintained by the CBI. Further, the court directed day-to-day trial and ensured that no challenge against the choice of prosecutors or any direction to impede or delay trial could be entertained by any court other than the apex bench monitoring the investigation of the 2G case. With the CBI set to file a supplementary chargesheet by next week, the bench directed the case to be heard next on April 26.

Dealing with the objections raised by Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, appearing for the Centre and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Harin P Raval, appearing for the ED, on the issue of court appointing a prosecutor, the bench said, "The expression "under" occurring in Section 46(2) of PML Act must be reasonably construed in a manner which is consistent with the dignity of the office of Public Prosecutor. A Public Prosecutor cannot be equated with a person who is holding an office under the State. He cannot be treated as a Government employee."

It said there was a public interest element in the appointment of public prosecutor as his independence from any governmental control was the "hall mark" of the post. Moreover, Lalit fulfilled the experience and expertise required of him under the said provision. In this view, the bench said, "We are unable to accept the contention of the Union of India and we hold that in the interest of a fair prosecution of the case, appointment of Lalit is eminently suitable."

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