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'Fairly robust scrutiny process,' SC declines plea against appointment of Madras HC judge

By Lawstreet News Network      Feb 07, 2023      0 Comments      363 Views
'Fairly robust scrutiny process,' SC declines plea against appointment of Madras HC judge

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain pleas questioning the recommendation to appoint Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as additional judge of the Madras High Court in view of her alleged "bias and prejudice against minorities", saying there can't be assumption that the Collegium did not go through all materials in her case.

"We are not entertaining the petitions, the reasons will follow," a special bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai said, following the urgent hearing on two petitions.

During the hearing, Gowri was administered the oath of the office at the Madras High Court as scheduled at 10.35 am.

On contentions that she has rendered herself ineligible and incapable to the post due to her tweets and "hate speeches", the bench said there is a difference between eligibility and suitability.

"On eligibility, there could be a challenge but not on suitability," the bench told senior advocates Raju Ramachandran and Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioners.

The counsel claimed that she was unfit to the high constitutional post as there is a certain threshold of requirements.

"The Collegium was stymied as certain information, we assume, were not put before it in view of open court statement by the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Monday," Ramachandran said.

"Her mindset is not in tune and antithetical with the constitutional requirements," he claimed.

"There have been cases where people with political affiliation have been appointed as judges of the Supreme Court. All these utterances were of 2018...When the Collegium takes a decision, it also takes opinion of consultee judges. You can't assume they were unaware of," the bench said.

"I also have political background and I have been a judge for many years and my political background has not come in the way," Justice Gavai said.

"We are not in position to say anything on eligibility, nor are we in position to say the Collegium should reconsider it," the bench said, further adding she has been appointed as additional judge only.

"It is a case of initial judge, we don't think we would be able to pass any order. We have fairly robust scrutiny process," the bench said.

"We would be setting up a very wrong precedent, if we entertain the plea," the bench said, even as Grover claimed Grover her views are extreme in nature making her ex facie ineligible to be judge.

"You are asking the court on the judicial side to direct the Collegium to reconsider its decision, which is unprecedented," the bench further told the counsel.

Senior advocate and chairman of the Bar Council of India, Manan Kumar Mishra, submitted that there has been no complaint against her by the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council.

The writ petition filed advocates Anna Mathews, Sudha Ramalingam and D Nagasila sought a direction seeks to set aside the recommendation for elevation of  Gowri as unconstitutional on account of "her prejudices against the minorities". Another petition was filed by R Vaigai and another.

A group of Madras HC lawyers had earlier lodged their protest against Gowri's proposed appointment after reports cited her affiliation to the BJP and also ascribed certain statements to her about Muslims and Christians, including 'Love Jihad' and illegal conversion.

Supreme CourtMadras High CourtCollegiumVictoria GowriFairly robust scrutiny processLekshmana Chandra Victoria GowriAdditional JudgeJustice Sanjiv KhannaJustice B R GavaiHate SpeechesSenior Advocates Raju RamachandranAnand GroverCJID Y ChandrachudPolitical AffiliationPolitical BackgroundBar Council of IndiaManan Kumar MishraTamil Nadu State Bar CouncilAdvocates Anna MathewsSudha RamalingamD NagasilaR VaigaiLawyersBJPBJPLove JihadIllegal Conversion
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