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'Moily was shooting his mouth off too much'

Last updated on: July 13, 2011 14:50 IST

Moily's exit from the law ministry was expected

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Vicky Nanjappa
Vicky Nanjappa analyses why Veerappa Moily was shunted out of the law ministry.

First a rant and then a change in stand. Veerappa Moily, who was handed over the corporate affairs ministry after being shunted out as the law minister, is today mum on his 'vested interests' comment that he had made on Tuesday.

Taking to rediff.com on Wednesday, Moily said: "I am happy with this new assignment and I am grateful that Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have entrusted me with this job. I will focus on my new portfolio. This is an important ministry and I will look to take it forward by doing some very good work."

Moily's exit from the law ministry was expected. He came across as a person who was interested in judicial reforms and certain statements made by him did indicate the same. However, his critics say that they remained mere statements and even blame him for not being assertive enough when it came to taking hard decisions.

This brings us to the crucial question as to how important is the position of a law minister.

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Image: Veerappa Moily

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'Moily was shooting his mouth off too much'

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Several lawyers point out that the law ministry has not been very high profile, but in today's context -- when there are more scams than ministers in a government -- the position of a law minister becomes extremely important in nature.

Former Karnataka Law Minister M C Nanaiah, who was leader of the opposition when Moily was the state's chief minister, says: "I personally have seen Moily functioning very closely. He lacked a crucial quality and that was to keep his team together."

"In today's context, the law ministry is a very crucial post. The government is battling many cases and hence a strong law minister is required. But Moily was shooting his mouth off too much, which in turn only angered the government."

"It looks as though by making this change, the government was looking for a more sane and competent person. A law minister needs to be an expert and a proper aptitude is required for this post."



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'Moily should have been more pro active'

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"The statements made by a law minister need to carry weight and I would not rate Moily very high. Even during his tenure as the chief minister, he did not carry the conviction that was required."

"With the government facing flak of the Supreme Court more often these days, it is the law minister who has to coordinate the law officers and face the court. Moily should have been more pro active."

"It is not the vested interests who have ensured this change. It is his own vested interest, which has brought about the change for him."

Immediately after being shunted out of the law ministry on Tuesday, Moily had said in New Delhi that nobody liked reforms and that he had been doing everything to introduce a change. However, sources in New Delhi say that the issue is not all that simple.



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'In Moily, the government found more of an academic'

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The government found the law ministry to be completely mismanaged.

In New Delhi, they were looking for a man with more aptitude and also who could be more assertive by nature. In Moily, they found more of an academic.

Moreover, Moily was dealing under the shadow of a very pro active former law minister, H R Bharadwaj who on several levels was considered to be the perfect candidate for the post.

Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde says that the duty of the law minister is to advise the government on all matters before the Supreme Court.



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'What Moily ideally had to do was advise the government properly'

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Justice Hegde says, "If the Supreme Court has taken up an issue suo moto, it is for the Law Minister to advise the government on how to go about it. I, however, will not accept the argument that a law minister has to be a constitutional expert. No person can be an expert on all subjects and political and legal personalities are completely different."

"A law minister, apart from having a fair idea of the law, needs to be diplomatic. In the case of Moily, I think he has been changed mainly because the government did not find the representation before the Supreme Court effective enough."

"What Moily ideally had to do was to take stock of the situation and advise the government properly. The cases before the Supreme Court are of supreme importance and it is the job of the law minister to ensure that the government is represented properly before the court."



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