Centre nod to elevate controversial lawyer as addnl judge of Madras HC

Gowri, by her own admission, is the general secretary of BJP's Mahila Morcha: Live Law

New Delhi: Amid widespread backlash over reports of her affiliation to the BJP and controversial statements made about Muslims and Christians, the Union Government on Monday approved the appointment of Advocate L Victoria Gowri as an Additional Judge of the Madras High Court.

The developments come even as the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea challenging her appointment on Tuesday.

A total of 11 advocates and two judicial officers were appointed on the day as additional judges in the high courts of Allahabad, Karnataka and Madras.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju announced the fresh appointments on Twitter and extended his best wishes to them.

Those appointed include six for the Allahabad High Court, five for the Madras High Court and two for the Karnataka High Court.

SC to hear plea on Tuesday
Taking note of the submissions of senior advocate Raju Ramachandran that the plea needed an urgent hearing, Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud agreed to hear a plea challenging Gowri's appointment on Tuesday.

Earlier, a bench comprising CJI had posted to hear the case on February 10.

"There are certain developments which have taken place, in the sense that the collegium has taken cognizance of what was drawn to our attention, or came to our notice, after we formulated our recommendations on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the collegium of High Court of Madras. Since we have taken cognizance of certain developments which have taken place thereafter, we can list this petition tomorrow morning. I will constitute a bench. Let that go before the appropriate bench", CJI told Ramachandran.

Gowri, by her own admission, is the general secretary of BJP's Mahila Morcha. Till now, she was representing the Centre before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

The collegium, comprising Chief Justice Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and K M Joseph, had proposed the names of Gowri and four other lawyers for elevation to the High Court on January 17. Two of Gowri's interviews titled ‘The More Threat to National Security & Peace? Jihad or Christian Missionary?’ and ‘Cultural genocide by Christian Missionaries in Bharat’ surfaced in the public domain soon after.

An old article she wrote in 2012, titled ‘Aggressive baptising destroying social harmony’, and published in an RSS-affiliated publication also surfaced soon. It contained passages that read “...but not a finger is lifted to stop allured and coerced conversions and to prevent Christians from conceiving communal conflicts,” and “for fifty years, the marginalised Hindus have been fighting the mighty Christian diocese. But now the situation is out of control.”

Lawyers write to Prez, SC Collegium
Alarmed by the revelations, a group of lawyers wrote to the President and the SC Collegium to stop her elevation. "We write, with a sense of foreboding, in these troubled times, when the judiciary is facing unprecedented and unwarranted criticism from the executive, as we are apprehensive that appointments such as these may pave the way for undermining the independence of the judiciary. It is extremely critical, at this juncture, to safeguard the institution from being weakened by its own administrative action,” they wrote.

(With inputs from PTI, Live Law)

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