New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reconsidered a plea for urgent hearing of a petition challenging the appointment of lawyer Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a judge of the Madras High Court, and advanced the date of hearing to February 7 from February 10.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala took note of fresh mentioning of the case by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran who drew the court’s attention to the Centre’s notification appointing Gowri as an additional judge.
“Since we have taken cognisance of the development, we can list it tomorrow morning. We can constitute a bench,” the CJI-led bench said when the plea was re-mentioned.
Earlier in the day, the top court had agreed to hear on February 10 the plea challenging the appointment of Gowri.
After the case was first mentioned in the forenoon proceeding, the Centre’s notification appointing a total of 11 advocates and two judicial officers as additional judges in the high courts of Allahabad, Karnataka and Madras came in public domain.
The advocates in their representation, expressed surprise over Gowri’s recommendation despite her “hate speeches” against minorities, religious conversions and ‘love jihad’.
“Gowri’s regressive views are completely antithetical to foundational constitutional values and reflect her deep-rooted religious bigotry making her unfit to be appointed as a High Court judge… Can any litigant belonging to Muslim or Christian [communities] ever hope to get justice in her court if she becomes a judge?” read the lawyers’ representation.
On the other hand, 50 advocates of the Madras High Court Bench in Madurai, on February 3, made a representation to the Supreme Court Collegium in support of Gowri’s elevation stating that the Madras HC had witnessed several advocates with political affiliations being elevated as judges.
The representation was followed by Union Law minister Kiren Rijiju’s reaction who came out in support of Gowri’s appointment.
Rijiju retweeted a post by Supreme Court advocate and former governor Swaraj Kaushal who said that in the past too, sitting members of Parliament representing political parties had been elevated as high court judges.
“Justices K S Hegde and Baharul Islam were both sitting Congress MPs when they were appointed as HC judges. Justice V R Krishna Iyer was a Cabinet Minister in Kerala. Once you take the oath of office, you have to live by the oath,” Kaushal had tweeted a couple of days ago.
Kaushal tagged a news report which said that Madras High Court advocates had urged the SC Collegium to recall its proposal to elevate Victoria Gowri, who had been associated with the BJP, as a high court judge citing her alleged remarks against minorities and political affiliation.
(The story has been edited with inputs from news agencies.)