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“I did appear on behalf of amit shah but…”: former cji uu lalit told ndtv

Retired Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit today said he did appear for Home Minister Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, but because of “inevitability” as he was never the lead counsel in the case. Responding to a query by NDTV, he said, “It is true that I appeared for Amit Shah, but it was irrelevant because the main lawyer was Ram Jethmalani.”

Justice Lalit also pointed out that the government changed in May 2014, while he was first asked to represent Shah in April when the earlier government was in power. “The process started long before the system was changed,” he said. He said, “I was briefed in this case, but I have never been the main counsel. I appeared for Shah’s co-accused, and that too not in the main case.”

Before his elevation as a judge in August 2014, Justice Lalit was an advocate in several high-profile and controversial cases. He represented Amit Shah in the alleged fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat. UU Lalit was Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah’s lawyer when Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government came under question over alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati.

Justice Lalit’s elevation as a judge had come under scrutiny in 2014 after the newly formed BJP government under PM Modi sent back the recommendation of former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam for the judiciary. UU Lalit was reportedly appointed as a Supreme Court judge to replace Subramaniam, whose name was sent back for reconsideration by the BJP-led government.

Subramaniam had then alleged that he was being targeted for displaying “independence and integrity” for his role in assisting the court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case. In an unprecedented move, the then CJI RM Lodha had said on record that the BJP-led government had “unilaterally” quashed Subramaniam’s file and “isolated” it without his knowledge and consent. Justice Lalit was the second person after Justice RF Nariman, also a former Solicitor General, to become a Supreme Court judge directly from the bar in nearly two decades.