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“I am not unhappy about it:” Attorney General KK Venugopal on SC not seeking his assistance in suo motu case on COVID-19

Attorney General for India (AG) KK Venugopal told Bar & Bench that he is not unhappy about the Supreme Court not seeking his assistance in the suo motu case initiated by the top court on COVID-19 related issues.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat had, on Thursday, taken suo motu cognizance of COVID-19 issues plaguing the country and issued notice to Central government represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and States.

The Court had also appointed Senior Counsel Harish Salve as Amicus Curiae.

“I cannot comment on anything else. But I can say, I am not unhappy,” AG KK Venugopal told Bar & Bench.

After it initiated the suo motu case on the ground that different High Courts hearing COVID-related issues was creating confusion and delay, the apex court came in for heavy criticism.

The appointment of Senior Counsel Harish Salve was also not welcomed by many who cited Salve’s personal proximity to CJI Bobde.

Various Senior Advocates took a dim view of the Court’s move.

Senior Advocate Ravindra Srivastava for instance took to social media to express his disappointment about notice not being issued to the office of AG.

Later on Friday, Salve recused from the case stating that he was criticised unfairly.

“It’s the most sensitive case this Court will look into. I don’t want this case to be decided under a shadow that I knew CJI from school and college and allegations being made that there is conflict of interest,” Salve told the Court.

Accepting his decision to recuse, CJI Bobde said,

“We will honour your sentiments and you must have been pained. We will allow your request. I also saw what a senior lawyer said but everyone has an opinion.”

The top court eventually adjourned the suo motu case for further consideration on Tuesday next week after the Central government sought time to file a detailed response.

 

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