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India's new government accused of interfering with judicial independence

Published on Jun 26, 2014 9:55 PM
 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media on his arrival for the first session of India's newly elected Parliament in New Delhi on June 4, 2014. The Indian PM faces accusations his government ran a campaign to block the appointment of a Supreme Court judge it believed was biased against it, fuelling a debate about judicial independence in the world's largest democracy. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces accusations his government ran a campaign to block the appointment of a Supreme Court judge it believed was biased against it, fuelling a debate about judicial independence in the world's largest democracy.

Mr Gopal Subramanium, a former solicitor-general who was invited in May to join the court, accused the government of undermining his appointment through malicious leaks to the media because of his involvement in murder cases brought against a key aide of Modi. "(It is) the fear of independence and independent thinking," Mr Subramanium told Reuters on Thursday, after withdrawing his candidacy through an open letter to the court on Wednesday. "The weakening of institutions is a serious concern."

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad declined to comment on the case when asked by reporters.

Mr Modi thundered to electoral victory last month on a reputation for decisive rule, after his predecessors helped to turn an economic boom into the longest slump in growth since free market reforms in 1991. Detractors call him autocratic, however, citing a clampdown on environmental activists such as Greenpeace and a number of police cases related to anti-Modi postings in social media. Amnesty International on Thursday deplored "a growing trend of intolerance towards dissent and criticism", in recent weeks.

 
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