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July 22, 2000
Prime Minister asks Jethmalani to resign
Rediff Team in New Delhi
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has asked Law Minister Ram Jethmalani to resign from the Union Cabinet for his remarks against the Supreme Court on Friday, reliable sources said.
A highly placed official said the resignation of Jethmalani, who is away in Pune, reached the Prime Minister this evening, but there was no further confirmation on this matter.
Jethmalani's office refused to comment.
Sources in the Cabinet told rediff.com late night that they had no information on the minister's resignation.
However, PMO sources confirmed that the Prime Minister has asked for the resignation.
Jethmalani was ticked off on Friday by the Supreme Court after he said that there was "no case" against Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who is facing prosecution in a 1992-93 riots case. He also said the Centre could prevent the Maharashtra Government from arresting Thackeray.
The court, without naming the minister, said he had no business to comment on a matter that was subjudice. Also, the court pointed out, the ministers' statements were sharply different from the official stand of the Union government.
Within hours of the Supreme Court observations, the law minister said: "The learned Chief Justice should at least have realised that he was making comments about a minister who knows his law as well as anyone else."
Jethmalani later issued a long statement questioning the judges.
"If His Lordship had meant to be critical, in fairness, I should have been invited to throw light which in the past has often illuminated judicial minds. I will certainly do so if the Court so desires," the statement said.
"I maintain that there is no contradiction between the affidavit filed by the Union Government and my stand on this specific issue which has nothing to do with the State's duty in matters of public order, but is concerned with the Union Government's duty under Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure," Jethmalani said.
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