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  India   All India  21 Oct 2017  Second top law officer quits, says reason is ‘personal’

Second top law officer quits, says reason is ‘personal’

Published : Oct 21, 2017, 3:20 am IST
Updated : Oct 21, 2017, 3:20 am IST

There was speculation a few months ago that the Supreme Court collegium was considering his name as a judge of the highest court.

Ranjit Kumar (Photo: PTI)
 Ranjit Kumar (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar on Friday quit as the country’s second-highest law officer, citing “personal family reasons”. Mr Kumar is likely to be replaced by additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, sources said.

Mr Kumar, who had earlier represented the Gujarat government in several cases, was appointed as solicitor-general on June 7, 2014, less than a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office. Recently, he was given an extension for another term on ad hoc basis.

There was speculation a few months ago that the Supreme Court collegium was considering his name as a judge of the highest court. On Friday, however, he denied that he was in contention for the appointment.

Among other matters, Mr Kumar had earlier appeared for the Gujarat government in a case related to Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a petty criminal killed in a police encounter near Gandhinagar area in November 2005 along with his wife Kauser Bi.  The Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad had claimed they were terrorists plotting to kill Mr Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister. Many senior police officers were accused by the CBI of allegedly plotting Sheikh’s killing in a “staged” encounter.

Mr Kumar’s resignation reached the Union law ministry on Friday. In the letter, he said: “Due to certain personal family issues, I hereby tender my resignation with immediate effect.” Ministry sources said a decision on this will be taken by minister Ravi Shankar Prasad after returning from an overseas visit on Sunday.

While confirming his resignation, Mr Kumar told this newspaper that due to his busy schedule and responsibilities as solicitor-general, he was not able to attend to certain health issues faced by members of his family.

He added he had a wonderful experience as solicitor-general and was very satisfied with the way the government treated him. He is the second government law officer to quit this year. Mr Mukul Rohatgi resigned as attorney-general in June and did not accept a second term in office.

Mr Kumar had earlier appeared in a number of important cases in the Supreme Court, including the Cauvery dispute case involving Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union territory of Puducherry. In the case, on the use of pellets against students of Jammu and Kashmir during agitations, he rejected the Supreme Court’s suggestion for the Centre to hold talks with separatists.

He also represented the Centre in the court on pleas over demonetisation and rising pollution. The constitutional expert also assisted the Supreme Court in deciding the issue of whether a state government can grant pardon to death row convicts in cases probed and prosecuted by Central agencies like the CBI. The issue had arisen out of the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to set free the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Before assuming office as solicitor-general, Mr Kumar assisted the Supreme Court as amicus curiae in cases like Yamuna pollution. He also represented then Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case in a Bengaluru court.

Tags: narendra modi, supreme court collegium, ranjit kumar
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi