Gopal Subramanium

One of the most talented jurists India has produced in recent times, Gopal Subramanium, was born in 1958 in Bangalore. He began his legal practice in 1980 in the Supreme Court of India, under the guidance of Soli J. Sorabjee, eminent jurist and former Attorney General of India. His abilities were recognized early in his career: the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the Dhronamraju Satyanarayana versus. N.T. Rama Rao case in 1988 recorded its appreciation in the following words: “It was a pleasure watching Mr Subramanium assisting so ably the learned Attorney General of India. We are very impressed by his thoroughness on facts and the law, and we place on record our appreciation of the assistance given by him…” In 1993, Mr Subramanium was designated a Senior Advocate suo moto by the Supreme Court, making him one of the youngest to be so designated in the history of the Supreme Court. He was appointed Additional Solicitor General of India in 2005 and went on to serve as Solicitor General of India between 2009 and 2011, also acting as Chairman of the Bar Council of India during the same period. Over the course of his tenure as a law officer, he was honored with the National Law Day Award for Outstanding Jurist in 2009 by the President of India for his consistent professional excellence and adherence to the highest traditions of the Bar.

Mr Subramanium has had a varied work experience. In 1991-1992, he acted as counsel to a Judicial Commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma, then a Judge of the Supreme Court, to inquire into security lapses leading to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Commission noted in its report: “The Commission had apprised Mr Subramanium that his role as counsel assisting the Commission was that of an Amicus Curiae to assist in ascertaining the truth and promoting the cause of justice, uninfluenced by any individual interest… The performance of this onerous duty by Mr Subramanium was of the highest order to the extent that all other counsel in their concluding address made special mention of this fact and uniformly praised him for the dispassionate discharge of his duty.” The Report also included the following words of the Advocate General of Tamil Nadu: “I will be failing in my duty if I do not mention about the exemplary manner in which the Commission’s counsel, Mr Subramanium, has conducted himself in the proceedings. But I would say without fear of exaggeration that he has been extremely fair to all parties before the Commission and the way in which he has assisted this Commission is something which has no parallel in the past…” In 1993, he acted as prosecuting counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the trial of persons accused of setting-off a series of bomb blasts in Bombay. He acted as the CBI’s counsel in this matter till 2012 when appeals in this trial were heard by the Supreme Court. In 1994-1995, Mr Subramanium acted as a special commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court in Sheila Barse versus Union of India to investigate into allegations of wrongful detention of persons in mental hospitals in the state of Assam. By an order dated October 3, 1994, the Supreme Court noted: “We have perused the excellent report submitted by Mr Subramanium, Senior Advocate. At the outset, we consider it our duty to place on record our deep appreciation of the time and energy spent by him in inquiring into the situation. We have no hesitation in accepting the report in its entirety. In 2001, he was appointed as counsel to a Judicial Commission headed by Justice K. Venkataswamy, former Supreme Court judge, to inquire into the sting operation carried out by a news publication to expose corruption in defense procurement transactions. Shortly thereafter, he acted as the Special Public Prosecutor in the prosecution of the accused in the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.

Between 2005 and 2011, Mr Subramanium served as a senior law officer to the Government of India, representing the Union in a wide range of matters involving complex questions of constitutional and criminal law. One such was acting as the Special Public Prosecutor in the prosecution of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist who carried out attacks on Mumbai in November 2008. In its judgment on appeal in this case, the Supreme Court ruled: “At the beginning of the hearing of the appeal, Mr Subramanium avowed that though appearing for the prosecution, he would like the best for the appellant.

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