The Supreme Court on Monday said that it will hear on Tuesday a plea challenging the appointment of controversial lawyer Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as an additional judge of the Madras High Court because of her alleged politically coloured views and anti-minority position.
Her name appears among 11 lawyers and two judicial officers whose appointment as additional judges of the Madras, Karnataka, and Allahabad that was notified on Monday.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju made the announcement in a Twitter post. Names of some of them were recommended last month by the Supreme Court collegium. Additional judges are usually appointed for two years, before being elevated as permanent judges.
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud initially listed for hearing next Monday – February 13 – but later agreed to list it on Tuesday – February – 7 – upon another mention by the senior advocate Raju Ramachandran informing the court that the notification for appointment has been issued since the mention in the morning.
“There are certain developments which have taken place, in the sense that the collegium has taken cognisance of what was drawn to our attention, or came to our notice, after we formulated our recommendations on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the collegium of the High Court of Madras. Since we have taken cognisance of certain developments which have taken place thereafter, we can list this petition Tuesday morning. I will constitute a bench. Let that go before the appropriate bench,” the CJI told senior advocate Raju Ramachandran.
Additional Solicitor General Gowri, according to the social media account purportedly belonging to her and speeches available on YouTube, is the general secretary of the BJP’s Women’s Wing. It is not clear if Gowri continues to be associated with the political party, but many have questioned the collegium’s decision to recommend her as a high court judge. Her several anti-minority statements have also been cited.
The petitioners, Anna Mathews, Sudha Ramalingam and D. Nagasila, have sought that her recommendation be declared “unconstitutional” due to lack of effective consultation and also that she be disqualified on account of her prejudice against minorities.
Earlier, a group of lawyers of the Madras high court had even sent representations to both President Droupadi Murmu and the Supreme Court Collegium against her proposed elevation.
“In the context of Gowri’s utterances, can any litigant belonging to Muslim or Christian community ever hope to get justice in her Court, if she becomes a Judge?” the advocates had asked. “Like Islam is green terror, Christianity is white terror.”
“Christian groups are more dangerous than Islam groups. Both are equally dangerous in the context of love jihad,” Gowri can be heard saying in the interview.
Many have pointed to the fact that Gowri’s appointment has been exceptionally smooth at a time when the Supreme Court and Union government are caught in a tussle over the latter’s delay in clearing names recommended by the former.
Besides Gowri, other additional judges appointed in the Madras High Court are advocate Pillaipakkam Bahukutumbi Balaji, Kandhasami Kulandaivelu Ramakrishnan and Judicial Officers Ramachandra Kalaimathi and K Govindarajan Thilakavadi.
Others appointed the additional judges on Monday are Advocates Syed Qamar Hasan Rizvi, Manish Kumar Nigam, Anish Kumar Gupta, Nand Prabha, Shukla Kshitij Shailendra and Vinod Diwakar in Allahabad High Court and Advocates Vijayakumar Adagouda Patil and Rajesh Rai Kallangala in the Karnataka High Court.