New Delhi: A delegation of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs on Monday met President Ram Nath Kovind and sought the removal of Tushar Mehta as the Solicitor General of India, alleging that his reported meeting with West Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari raised serious doubts of impropriety.
TMC MPs Sukhendu Sekhar Ray and Mahua Moitra also submitted a letter to the president, which said, "This meeting took place at Mehta's official residence."
"Such a meeting, between one of the highest serving law officers of India, the solicitor general, who is also appointed as the Special Public Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and an accused person being investigated by the same agency, raises extremely serious doubts of impropriety," the letter submitted by the MPs on behalf of the TMC stated.
Solicitor General Mehta has denied meeting Adhikari at his official residence in Delhi.
Adhikari, once a Trinamool Congress heavyweight, is an accused in the 2016 Narada tapes case, and Mehta is representing the CBI in the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court in the agency's probe against senior TMC leaders in the matter.
Various news items, containing videos and photographs, have reported a private one-on-one meeting between BJP's Adhikari, "an accused" in serious criminal offences and Mehta, the solicitor general, the letter stated.
This is a "deeply troubling matter of national importance that raises grave doubts of impropriety in one of India's highest legal offices - the Office of the Solicitor General of India", it said.
Earlier, the party's Members of Parliament —Derek O'Brien, Ray and Moitra — had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for removing Mehta and had alleged the meeting between Mehta and Adhikari was in violation of established norms and "reeks of impropriety".
The letter to the president said, "To make matters worse, this meeting took place subsequent to an equally improper meeting between Adhikari and the Home Minister of India, Amit Shah. Notably, Adhikari is an accused in various criminal cases of cheating, illegal gratification, and bribery etc."
Such meetings make a total mockery of the criminal justice system and would only serve to destroy the common man's faith in the judiciary, it said.
"We, therefore, have reasons to believe that such a meeting has been organised to influence the outcome of criminal cases where Adhikari is an accused person, using the high offices of the solicitor general. We state that the act of the solicitor general to provide an opportunity of an audience to Suvendu Adhikari not only indicative of grave impropriety but also raises troubling doubts about his professional integrity," the TMC alleged.
The party also said that Mehta, realising the "gravity of his actions" attempted to offer an explanation to the media that Adhikari came to meet him "unannounced", and hence he had to "apologise" for not meeting him.
"We ask ourselves, if this means that the solicitor general would indeed have met an accused person in criminal cases if they had come with a prior appointment. We ask ourselves, has the solicitor general forgotten the ethics and principles which circumscribe his conduct in the high office he occupies," the TMC said in the letter.
It demanded that Mehta's conduct be investigated and pending such inquiry, he must tender his resignation.
"The sanctity of the office of the Solicitor General of India cannot be seen to be compromised. Public interest, integrity and neutrality of the office of the Solicitor General of India are required to be protected at all costs required be protected at all costs," it said.
"We, therefore, approach Your Excellency (the president) to initiate necessary steps for the removal of Tushar Mehta from the post of the Solicitor General of India to uphold India's Constitutional values," the party said.
On 3 July, Mehta had said,"Shri Suvendu Adhikari did come to my residence cum office on Thursday at around 3.00 pm, unannounced. Since I was already in a pre-scheduled meeting in my chamber, my staff requested him to sit in the waiting room of my office building and offered him a cup of tea."
"When my meeting was over and thereafter my PPS informed me about his arrival, I requested my PPS to convey to Mr Adhikari my inability to meet him and apologise as he had to wait. Mr Adhikari thanked my PPS and left without insisting to meet me. The question of my meeting with Mr Adhikari therefore did not arise," the law officer said.