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Mukul Rohatgi

07 May 2015

Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi attacked the collegium system during his arguments in the Supreme Court yesterday defending the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), using the example of allegations of bias and nepotism in 2013 judicial appointments, reported the Indian Express.

He cited former Gujarat high court chief justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya’s letter to the president that had alleged that the then-chief justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir had impeded his elevation to the Supreme Court because he had earlier, as part of the collegium, opposed the elevation of Kabir’s sister to the Calcutta high court.

“I dare say this but there are several examples like this. And what was the weightage given to the letter written by a fellow judge? How was that not important to collegium?” Rohatgi told the Constitution Bench led by Justice JS Khehar, as reported by /Express/.

Kabir’s sister Shukla Kabir Sinha was appointed as a Calcutta high court judge in 2010 by a collegium in which Kabir had recused himself from the decision, while Bhattacharya, who was also a part of the collegium, had objected to her elevation.

15 April 2015

Mint reported that Justice Anil R Dave, who’s heading the five-judge constitution bench that will hear challenges to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, today recused himself from the case:

The move came after senior lawyer Fali S Nariman, who represents lawyers body and petitioner Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Association, raised an objection. He argued that after a 13 April notification by the government which brought into force the NJAC Act, Justice Dave became part of the commission whose validity has been challenged.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi called the objection raised by Nariman “unfounded” and “completely condemnable”.

17 October 2014

The central government today told the Supreme Court that it could not disclose the names, received from foreign governments, of people who have allegedly stashed away their ill-gotten money to tax havens, as it was bound by the confidentiality clause under the double taxation avoidance agreement.

Its stand was made in an application seeking modification of an earlier court order asking it to disclose the names all such people it had received from German government to the petitioner Ram Jethmalani.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the application for an urgent hearing before a bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice AK Sikri.

The government has said that the names of such account holders against whom the prosecution has been launched could be disclosed as they are in public domain but in case of others, it was bound by the confidentiality clause.

The government has said that such disclosures would be counter productive for get information on black money stashed away in tax havens as foreign governments would not share such information in future.

The court had Aug 20 directed the central government to give Jethmalani details of the account holders in banks of Liechtenstein that were submitted to the court on May 1. The court’s order came as senior counsel Anil Divan told the court that government had given him the names of 18 people against whom prosecution has been launched but held back the names of eight people.

However, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, the petitioner in the plea seeking steps to bring back black money stashed away in tax havens, assailed the government position saying that it could as well be the position of people involved in taking ill-gotten money to tax havens and not that of the government.

Jethmalani Friday told the court that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

The apex court by its July 4, 2011 order had set up the SIT which was mandated to undertake the investigations into the unaccounted money stashed away outside the country in tax havens and foreign banks and take steps to bring it back.

The SIT comprises the revenue secretary, the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the director, enforcement directorate, the director, of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau, director general, Revenue Intelligence, director, Financial Intelligence Unit, and Joint Secretary, (FT & TR-I) in the CBDT The court had said that SIT would also include director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

However, the SIT could not get operational till May 1 as the government dragged its feet on the issuing the notification. On May 1, the apex court held that there was no ambiguity in July 4, 2011 order and directed the central government to issue the necessary notification.

Initially by July 4, 2011, SIT was headed by former apex court judge Justice BP Jeevan Reddy with another former judge Justice MB Shah as second in commandA

However, Justice Jeevan Reddy withdrew from the SIT citing personal reasons. The court by its May 1 order made Justice MB Shah the chairman with another former apex court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat as vice chairman.

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