CJI Defends Victoria Gowri's Appointment
CHENNAI: Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud defended the appointment of Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a judge of the Madras High Court in February this year by the Supreme Court collegium despite allegations of affiliation to the BJP made against the lawyer who was then practicing in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court after her name was proposed for elevation.
Though some lawyers had then written to the CJI urging him to take back the recommendation to appoint Victoria Gowri as an additional judge of the High Court and a case was also filed in the Supreme Court seeking an order restricting her from taking oath, she was administered the oath of office on February 7, causing resentment among the members of the bar.
Referring to that incident recently, Justice Chandrachud, while speaking at the Harvard Law School Center on the legal profession, said one should not be cold calling individuals merely for views they might have held as lawyers.
The collegium looked "very carefully" at the nature of the speech which the judge is alleged to have made and feedback was shared with all stakeholders including the Centre, he said.
The CJI said lawyers who represent a cross-section of diverse political perspectives turn out to be amazing judges, adding: "One of our greatest judges, Justice Krishna Iyer, who came out with some of the finest judgments, had a political background. My own experience has been that judges who appear for a cross-section of diverse political views across the spectrum have turned out to be amazing judges.’
He said lawyers across their careers appear for a cross-section of clients. "Lawyers don't choose their clients. In fact, it is my firm belief that as a lawyer, you are duty-bound to appear for whoever comes to you in search of legal aid, much as a doctor has to administer medical aid to whoever comes to their clinic. You don't presume the guilt or the lack of guilt of people who come to you," Chandrachud said while answering a question from a law student at the event.
The top court had then refused to entertain a plea seeking to restrain Gowri from taking oath as an additional judge of the Madras High Court, saying a "consultative process" had taken place before her name was recommended by the collegium for the appointment.
The apex court had said Gowri has been appointed as an additional judge and if she is not true to the oath or does not discharge her duties in accordance with the oath, the collegium is entitled to take a view of that, while pointing out that there have been instances where people have not been made permanent judges.