Published On: Fri, Apr 23rd, 2021

Unsavoury allegations, Salve withdraws as amicus from Covid hearing

New Delhi: Senior advocate Harish Salve on Friday sought Supreme Court’s permission to withdraw as amicus curiae from the suo motu case to distribution of essential supplies and services, including oxygen and drugs, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a collective decision of the bench to appoint him amicus curie

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, who is demitting office as the CJI Friday itself, rapped some senior advocates for making statements without reading its order passed on Thursday and observed that it did not stop high courts from hearing cases related to COVID-19 management in the country.

The bench, also comprising Justices LN Rao and SR Bhat, granted time to the Centre to file response in the case and posted it for hearing on April 27. “You have imputed motives to us without reading our order,” the bench told senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who was appearing in the matter.

“We are also pained at reading what some senior lawyers have to say on Salve’s appointment as amicus in the matter,” the bench said, adding that it was a “collective decision” of all the judges at the bench.

Salve submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said it is a “very sensitive” matter and he did not want the case to be decided under the shadow, where statements were made that he knew the Chief Justice from either school or college days. Justice Bobde is demitting the Chief Justice of India office on Friday.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested Salve not to withdraw from the case as the amicus, as nobody should succumb to such pressure tactics. Reportedly, several counsel had written criticizing court’s decision to appoint Salve as amicus curiae in the matter.

The Chief Justice told Salve it was a collective decision of the bench to appoint him amicus curie and there was nothing more to understand. Salve, who appeared for Vedanta on Thursday before the top court, submitted, “I did not know our Bar is divided among industries we appear for. Please allow me to recuse with all humility.”

Accepting Salve’s request for withdrawal as amicus from the matter, the bench said that it did not like reading what some senior advocates had to say, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. “In future, we will have to look for someone as amicus who we don’t know”, added the bench.

The bench added it understands that Salve was pained. Mehta submitted, “We are not in a position in the country to have a maligning competition in media and electronic media. Someday somebody from the judiciary has to take cognisance of this trend. Salve should reconsider. It is a question of principle.”

On Thursday, while appearing for Vedanta, Salve had submitted the company could produce oxygen at its Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu to make up for the shortage amid COVID-19 crisis.

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