BJP downplays SC verdict, for primacy of cabinet decision

Ravi Shankar Prasad

State Law Minister says his government 'accepts' the ruling

The BJP on Wednesday reacted cautiously to the Supreme Court order on the appointment of Gujarat Lokayukta, with its chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad saying that the

party "will come out with a structured response only after reading the verdict, a copy of which has yet not been seen by us".

Prasad, however, sought to project that the verdict was not a setback to the Narendra Modi government, which had contested the Governor's right to go ahead with the appointment without the concurrence of the state cabinet, saying that the court has endorsed the established constitutional position which was the bedrock of Gujarat's argument.

"The Supreme Court has asserted the primacy of cabinet recommendation, which amounts to upholding the Narendra Modi government's stand on this issue," Prasad said referring to the apex court's decision to set aside the observations made against Modi regarding the appointment of Justice (retd) R A Mehta as the Gujarat Lokayukta.

"The Supreme Court has also set aside the High Court's remarks made against Narendra Modi," he said.

Senior BJP leaders, however, expressed surprise over the verdict describing it as "palpably contradictory" in reiterating the supremacy of cabinet otherwise while superimposing the primacy of the opinion of the High Court Chief Justice over the appointment.

"This verdict has the potential of disastrous consequences and prone to misuse by the party in power at the Centre," said a senior party member.

Party leaders, however, refrained from openly criticising the verdict and sought to deflect the attention by criticising the Congress, which has praised the verdict as a setback to Modi. "This is a cry of desperation from the Congress. They have been roundly defeated in Gujarat five times of which three times were under Modi.... After the convincing defeat in the recent elections, the Congress should learn to be patient," Prasad said.

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