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July 22, 2000
Union Law Minister Jethmalani resigns
Amberish K Diwanji and Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani resigned on Saturday on instructions from the prime minister's office.
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, which in its affidavit to Supreme Court some time back had said that Srikrishna Commission was the state's problem.
A senior minister around 1630 IST conveyed the PMO's message to Jethmalani, who was in Pune. The minister sent in his resignation letter at 1830 IST, which was accepted by the prime minister and forwarded to the President later in the evening.
Though the Supreme Court's comments on Friday were damning enough, what apparently forced the prime minister to seek Jethmalani's resignation was his (the minister's) defiant comment that he "knows his law."
Sources said the Supreme Court would have in all probability on Monday reacted to Jethmalani's statement and the prime minister did not want to get caught in the cross-fire.
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