New Delhi: Eminent lawyer Ashwani Kumar's career as Law Minister ironically came undone following a legal tangle of elephantine proportions, which put him in trouble at his place of work. Mr Kumar lists as his profession, 'Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India.'
The minister found himself in a particularly sticky spot after it became public that he had in March vetted a report that the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI submitted in sealed cover to the Supreme Court a few days later. The sealed cover implied confidentiality between the CBI and the court, and the Opposition demanded his ouster.
Mr Kumar brazened it out, denying impropriety and refusing to resign. Even after the Supreme Court observed that the CBI report being vetted was an "erosion of faith." His party, the Congress, was said to be split over whether Mr Kumar should be asked to resign. While many party leaders are said to be not particularly fond of Mr Kumar, the word of his biggest backer carries considerable weight - Mr Kumar is known as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's man.
Eventually though, it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi -- reportedly unhappy with him continuing in government - who had the final word. Mr Kumar quit on the evening of May 10, a little after Mrs Gandhi met the Prime Minister.
In this inglorious saga, the first person to quit was Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval, who wrote an injured letter to his superior legal officer, the Attorney General of India, and said he was being made the "scapegoat." Mr Raval had told the Supreme Court in March that the report had not been vetted. In his plaint, he said he was only being consistent with his superior's assertion in court.
Mr Kumar might empathise with Mr Raval. If only because he too has been an Additional Solicitor General. That was in the 1990s.
The 62-year-old Mr Kumar has not been a politician for very long. He was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2002 from Punjab and has been a member of the Upper House since. He has never contested an election and does not belong to any of the Congress's leadership groups.
He became a junior minister in 2007 and his stint as Law Minister is his first Cabinet posting.
The articulate minister had impeccable education. He has studied at Delhi's prestigious St. Stephen's College, at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
He lost his wife Madhu Kumar last year and has a son and a daughter. Among his favourite pastimes, he lists wrestling.