Advocate N.G.R. Prasad, one of the signatories to a representation sent by 21 lawyers from Chennai urging President Draupadi Murmu to return the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation to elevate advocate L. Victoria Gowri as a judge of the Madras High Court, has taken exception to another representation made by 54 lawyers from Madurai in support of her proposed elevation.
In his reply to the claim that lawyers with political affiliations had been elevated as judges of the High Court in the past, Mr. Prasad said: “It is true that in the past, lawyers, who were members of political parties, were appointed as judges of the High Court but the supporters of Ms. Gowri have failed to note that none of them had made hate speeches as she has done.”
Referring to her interviews to a YouTube channel against religious minorities, he said: “Her appointment is being opposed by us in the interest of the nation and an impartial judiciary, which is important for a secular country where all communities of society, more particularly the minorities, expect free and fair dispensation of justice.”
Further, clarifying that the opposition was primarily on the basis of her speeches and not merely because of her affiliation with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, he said: “It is here Ms. Gowri falls well short of the requirements. It is lack of Constitutional values like secularism and her divisive speeches that constitutionally disqualify her from holding high judicial office.”
Mr. Prasad pointed out that Justices K. Chandru and D. Hariparanthaman (both retired judges of the High Court) had ceased to be members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) at least 20 years before their elevation and did not take part in any political campaign until their elevation. Similar was the case with other judges who had political connections with other parties such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Congress long before their elevation.
It was on February 2 that the 21 lawyers sent a representation to the President expressing surprise over the Supreme Court collegium having recommended the name of Ms. Gowri to be elevated as a judge of the High Court despite her speeches being available in the public domain. They also urged the collegium to withdraw its recommendation.
A day later, 54 lawyers from Madurai wrote to the collegium stating that many lawyers with political backgrounds had been appointed as judges of the High Court in the past and therefore Ms. Gowri’s elevation could not be opposed on such grounds. They also accused the other 21 lawyers of having opposed her elevation due to political animosity.