Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) P. Sathasivam was sworn in as the 23rd Governor of Kerala at a solemn function held at Raj Bhavan here on Friday. The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) kept off the function.
Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan administered the oath of office to Mr. Sathasivam in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Saraswathy Sathasivam, the new Governor’s wife, was present.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, at a press conference, said he had not received any official invitation for the function. “The office of the Leader of the Opposition is well known inside and outside the State and it does not usually misplace documents,” he said. However, Mayor K. Chandrika was present.
The Public Relations Department immediately went into an overdrive to disprove Mr. Achuthanandan by releasing a copy of the invite sent to him. The Opposition leader, in response, made it clear that his office had received only a car pass for the previous day’s reception and this was delivered at his official residence. There was no official call nor was his secretary informed about the swearing-in ceremony. In this context, the government should conduct a probe, he said.
Several senior United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders, including Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president V.M. Sudheeran, had questioned the constitutional propriety of appointing a former CJI as Governor.
The Chief Minister had made a passing reference that he had not been consulted on the appointment.
Mr. Chandy and his government, however, preferred to play down any political differences it might have on the appointment and made it a point to cordially receive the Governor-designate when he arrived here on Thursday evening, observing all ceremonial constitutional procedures.
The cordiality was on display at the swearing-in ceremony when Mr. Sathasivam was received by Mr. Chandy and others and escorted to the dais.
The 65-year-old Mr. Sathasivam succeeds Sheila Dixit who resigned office the other day. He is the first former CJI to be appointed as Governor. Mr. Sathasivam retired as CJI on April 20, 2014.