Advocate Victoria Gowri sworn in as additional judge of Madras HC; SC dismisses petition against her

Challenging her appointment, Sr Adv Raju Ramachandran said that Gowri had rendered herself unfit to take oath due to her public utterances. 
Lawyer Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri sworn in as additional judge of Madras High Court. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath)
Lawyer Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri sworn in as additional judge of Madras High Court. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking to declare advocate Victoria Gowri's appointment additional judge of Madras HC as “null” and “void”. 

Lawyer Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri, who faced opposition from a section of the legal fraternity to her appointment to the higher judiciary on Tuesday took oath of office as the additional judge of Madras High Court.

A bench headed by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai said, “We aren’t inclined to hear the plea. Reasons will follow.” 

“Assuming that collegium may not have taken all these things into account may not be appropriate,” Justice Khanna said. 

Underscoring the fact that Gowri was taking oath as an additional judge of Madras HC and her appointment won’t be made permanent in case she’s not true to her oath, Justice Gavai said that directing the collegium to reconsider would result in showing lack of respect for it. “How can we act on conjectures and surmises? There are two consultee judges from Tamil Nadu. We’ll be setting a very wrong precedent,” he added. 

“There have been cases where people with political backgrounds have taken oath as judges and SC judges. Fact of the matter is that all this was placed before the collegium also,” the bench also said. 

Interestingly, the while the hearing was underway in SC, Advocate Gowri had administered oath as additional judge of Madras HC. 

Challenging her appointment, Sr Adv Raju Ramachandran said that Gowri had rendered herself unfit to take oath due to her public utterances. 

“Thus she is unfit to take oath. Oath speaks of true faith and allegiance… there is letter and spirit of every word in constitution. She had rendered herself incapable of taking oath due to her utterances. You may be member of party but hate speech which runs completely antithetical. Even if you take oath then it will be on paper. And see the ugly haste in which it has been done. The fact that this Court was hearing was brought to the notice of the Acting Chief Justice of Madras HC. And the notify at 10.35? What is significance of 10.35? That this court would decide in 5 mins?” Sr Counsel added. 

Also opposing her appointment, Senior Advocate Anand Grover said, “The problem is with her views expressed, which are so extreme, that they make it ex-facie evident that she is unfit to take oath as  a judge. And the collegium process, was not without full knowledge. There was no proper consultative process. It is possible reports of IB did not indicate her articles. To that extent, there can be an enquiry.” 

Gowri’s name was recommended by the six member Supreme Court collegium on January 17, 2023. 

The plea that was preferred by group of lawyers in Chennai argued that Gowri has shown strong prejudice during her public speeches against citizens on the ground of their religious affiliation, which disqualifies her from dispensing justice, without fear or favour, and affection or ill-will. 

“Her proposed appointment as a judge poses a grave threat to the fair administration of justice and citizens right to the same under Article 21 of the Constitution. The petitioners believe that relevant materials regarding the 4th Respondent’s publicly expressed views were not placed before the collegium of the Madras High Court or of this Hon‟ble Court, and this has affected the consideration of her eligibility,” the plea stated. 

Lawyers had cited that alleged statements made by her against minorities in the past and claimed that her elevation would undermine the independence of the judiciary. Furthermore, the members of Madras HC bar council had also addressed separate letters to President Droupadi Murmu and SC Collegium objecting to the recommendation saying that her appointment dents the independence of judiciary.

Substantiating their contention, lawyers had cited YouTube links of her two interviews captioned “The more threat to national security and Peace? Jihad or Christian Missionary? and Cultural genocide by Christian Missionaries in Bharat - Victoria Gowri” and also an article titled “Aggressive baptising destroying social harmony” published on October 1, 2012 in a RSS publication.

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