New Delhi: Gopal Subramaniam, who is set to head the probe the Arvind Kejriwal government has ordered into alleged irregularities in the Delhi cricket association, is a veteran of such inquiry commissions.
"His experience with commissions of inquiry is vast," said former colleague Mohan Parasaran, who was additional solicitor-general when Subramaniam was the country's solicitor-general.
A quick recap from 1991 reveals the depth of the experience: counsel for the Verma commission that looked into security lapses that led to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the Wadhwa commission on the 1999 killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and the 2001 Venkataswami commission on the Tehelka tapes.
Parasaran also revealed something else. Subramaniam, he said, "has a knack of falling out with people, although he is not known to have any political affiliations".
Subramaniam is no stranger to controversy, either.
He had last year withdrawn his candidature from a panel of judges shortlisted for elevation to the Supreme Court after what he called "a malicious campaign of planted leaks" of negative reports against him by the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau.
The UPA government had cleared Subramaniam's name but the NDA, which wrested power in May 2014, sought fresh security clearances. The NDA government later opposed the former solicitor-general's elevation, citing the IB report, although the same agency had cleared his name when the UPA was in power.
Government sources had then alleged in private that Subramaniam broke protocol to meet the defence counsel for an accused in the 2G case when he was solicitor-general.
Subramaniam had been amicus curiae in a case involving the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh by Gujarat police when Narendra Modi was chief minister. A probe the Supreme Court later ordered led to the arrest of Modi's closest aide, Amit Shah - who was subsequently released. Shah is now the BJP's national president.
In 1999, as a prosecutor, he had cautioned his mentor, Justice D.P. Wadhwa, against absolving the Bajrang Dal in his investigations into the killing of Australian missionary Staines and his two minor sons in Odisha.
Subramaniam, who has a crisp British accent - attributed to the BBC World Radio Service he listened to as a boy - had a run-in with the UPA too. He stepped down as solicitor-general in 2011 after Rohington Nariman was fielded instead of him in the Supreme Court during the 2G case hearing. At that time he had been facing criticism for losing some cases.
In the recent past, Subramaniam has been a pro bono consultant to the Delhi government and even gave legal opinion supporting its claim to control the anti-corruption branch, now under the Centre-controlled Delhi police.
"Gopal Subramaniam has been counsel for the Verma commission, the Wadhwa commission and the Venkataswami commission. He has also been counsel in the Bofors, 26/11 and the Italian marines cases. There is no question of conflict of interest as several lawyers give their legal opinion to the government. If we had to choose outside these names, our pool would be very small," a Kejriwal aide told this paper.
In a letter of acceptance Subramaniam wrote to Kejriwal, the former solicitor-general said he would "accept" the assignment on the "understanding" that the purpose of the commission was "positive in content" and the government should be "benefited to take forward Cricket to better and higher levels".
"It is only fair that I must mention that Shri Arun Jaitley whose name has figured in the news has been a valued and distinguished colleague of mine for almost 37 years," he added.
The Delhi and District Cricket Association has refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the commission of inquiry. Its treasurer, Ravinder Manchanda, said the Union ministry of corporate affairs, not the territorial government, was the competent authority./ The Telegraph Calcutta