It was a rather dramatic declaration of disappointment. “My diminishing respect for you ends now,” senior advocate Ram Jethmalani told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter released on Twitter on Monday.

The message was the culmination of a disagreement the lawyer has had with the prime minister about the appointment of KV Chowdary, the former chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, as Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Jethmalani has alleged that Chowdary’s reputation is murky. After Chowdary’s appointment was cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, Jethmalani said that he would fight the government in Supreme Court.

The 91-year-old Rajya Sabha member, who was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2013 for criticising the leadership, is the second prominent Supreme Court lawyer to oppose Chowdary’s appointment.  Last week, Prashant Bhushan made public his letters to Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, detailing his objections to the appointment.

Bhushan too has threatened to take the matter to court. “It’s shameful and unfortunate that the BJP and the Congress have come together to destroy the CVC by appointing a dubious and pliable person as its chief,” Bhushan said today. “I will challenge it in the court.”

Jethmalani’s letter is significant because the lawyer had strongly supported Modi’s prime ministerial bid when the bulk of his party’s top leadership had opposed the idea.

Jethmalani has also made no secret of his differences with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He made a pointed reference to his letter of June 6, in which, he said, he had enclosed “clinching evidence of the Finance Minster’s recommendee’s total unfitness for the job”.

My breakup with the Prime Minister @narendramodi

— Ram Jethmalani (@RamJethmalani5) June 8, 2015

Break from the past

On Monday, President Mukherjee approved the recommendation of Modi and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, that former Central Board of Direct Taxes chief Chowdary be appointed Chief Vigilance Commissioner and that Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma should be made Chief Information Commissioner.

The Central Vigilance Commission, the anti-corruption watchdog formed in 1964, is headed by a chief vigilance commissioner and has two vigilance commissioners. This is the first time that the tradition of appointing an Indian Administrative Service officer as the chief commission has been broken. Chowdary is a former Indian Revenue Service officer, who has been working as an adviser to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to check black money.

The term of Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar had ended on September 28 and the government had been criticised for keeping it vacant for so long. But last week, when reports appeared that Chowdary’s name had been recommended, Bhushan and then Jethmalani went public with their objections, questioning his credentials for the job.

’Serious doubts’

“In the absence of a Lokpal, the CVC is the main watchdog against corruption,” Bhushan had told reporters on June 1 when he made public his letter dated May 20th to Modi and Rajnath Singh. “Such posts should be occupied with persons who are beyond any doubt.”

Blaming both the Congress and the BJP, Bhushan had described the appointment a “bipartisan consensus on corruption”, and claimed that he had “certain information in his possession that put serious doubts on his suitability for this important position”. Bhushan alleged that Chowdary had been under a cloud in the “Stock Guru” scam. He also said that though Chowdary was the director general of income-tax when the Radia tapes were intercepted, he did not initiate action despite having evidence in the case. It was only on the intervention of the Supreme Court that the CBI and ED pursued an investigation, Bhushan’s letter stated.

Chowdary, Bhushan’s letter alleged, had also visited former Central Bureau of Investigation Director Ranjit Sinha on four occasions while the inquiry into the allegedly corrupt sales of 2G telecom spectrum was underway.

“The Supreme Court on 14.05.2015 has said that Mr Sinha’s meetings and the impact of those meetings on cases being dealt by the CBI, needs to be investigated.”

‘Criminal activities’

Jethmalani followed suit on June 4, releasing on his Twitter account and Facebook page his letter dated June 2 to President Pranab Mukherjee.

“I am writing this to warn you that this is the greatest disaster that will fall on this unfortunate nation. For the nation’s sake, call for the entire record of this officer’s involvement in criminal activities from which he has managed to get out with the help of corrupt and anti-national elements, which the Prime Minister unfortunately cannot control.”

Here is the full text of the letter.

My Letter dated 02.06.2015 to @RashtrapatiBhvn regarding appointment of K.V Chowdary as CVC

— Ram Jethmalani (@RamJethmalani5) June 4, 2015

Jethmalani also referred to his earlier letter dated May 26 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, warning him about Chowdhary’s appointment.

“KV Chowdhary by no means has a clean record. It is well known that corrupt public servant thrive with the help of corrupt politicians.”

The finger was once again pointed at Jaitley for having suggested Chowdhary’s name for the post in a meeting that he should not have been a part of in the first place.

“I have repeatedly warned you that he has no interest whatsoever in identification and punishment of powerful offenders or in repatriation of the proceeds of their crimes.”

Full text of the letter.

Page 1 of my Letter dated 26.05.2015 to @narendramodi regarding CVC issue. Sent to the @RashtrapatiBhvn too.

— Ram Jethmalani (@RamJethmalani5) June 4, 2015

Page 2 of my Letter dated 26.05.2015 to @narendramodi regarding CVC issue. Sent to the @RashtrapatiBhvn too.

— Ram Jethmalani (@RamJethmalani5) June 4, 2015