Breaking its silence, government today defended its decision to return the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium to appoint senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as a judge of the apex court, saying its move was based on "proper, cogent and sound" grounds.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted that the government has the right to be consulted in appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, a day after Chief Justice of India R M Lodha took exception to the government's handling of the issue.
"In the process of appointment (of judges), government has got the right to be consulted. And whatever opinion the government has given, is based upon cogent, proper and sound grounds," Prasad told reporters here.
He was responding when referred to the unhappiness expressed by the Chief Justice who had said it was not proper for the Executive to unilaterally segregate Subramanium's name from three others who were appointed to the top court.
"I fail to understand how the appointment to a high constitutional post has been dealt with in a casual manner. The segregation of Gopal Subramanium's file was done unilaterally without my knowledge and concurrence which was not proper," Justice Lodha had said.
Earlier in the day, Prasad said the government has the "highest regard" for the judiciary, the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India.
"I want to reiterate very firmly that the Narendra Modi government has the highest respect for the judiciary. The independence of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, is an article of faith for this government. We have the highest respect for the Chief Justice of India," he said.