Shyam Divan’s article in The Hindu (Op-Ed, “Alpine amnesia and the Attorney General,” July 10, 2013) completely surprised me.
The investigation is being monitored by the Supreme Court in a PIL. This PIL involves two distinct aspects. First, the legality and constitutionality of coal block allocations to private parties by the Government of India. Second, the offences, if any, committed by officers of the Central government in allotting coal blocks to different parties. The first aspect involves the question of constitutionality and legality of the allotments made by the Central government. The Attorney General is defending the allotments on legal grounds. The second aspect involves the CBI’s investigation, which the court is monitoring with the purpose of ensuring it is free and fair. These two issues are separate and distinct.
Mr. Divan completely mixes up these two distinct aspects of the Coalgate PIL and fabricates a situation which is untrue and false. It is obvious that he has not read the affidavit filed by the CBI Director. That is why he rushes to draw a conclusion that the AG is advising the CBI in this matter. If Mr. Divan had cared to read the affidavit, he would have realised the only issue on which the AG was asked for his views was how the status report was to be filed in court — whether it should be an affidavit in a sealed cover. For Mr. Divan to conclude that the AG is “even advising” the CBI is a deliberate falsehood.
Mr. Divan also proceeds on a misconception that the AG is defending the officials concerned of the government. He should know that the investigation ranges from 1993 to 2008 and almost all the officers who may be investigated have long gone out. They are certainly not part of the present team defending the allocations. When a law officer appears for the Union of India in such matters, he appears for the state and not for any individual official. Thus, the question of defending any official personally, while defending the allocations, does not arise.
(Tripurari Ray is an advocate in the Supreme Court.)