Keywords: Controversy, legal practitioner, Chief justice, Advocating, Judgeship
In a recent interaction at Harvard Law School, Chief Justice of India, Justice Chandrachud, emphasized the importance of not letting past political affiliations and views hinder the appointment of lawyers as judges. His comments came in response to inquiries about the appointment of Justice Victoria Gowri to the Madras High Court last year, a decision shrouded in controversy.
Addressing concerns raised by various quarters, including lawyers, about Justice Gowri’s alleged political affiliations and past statements, Chief Justice Chandrachud stated that the judiciary should not engage in “cold calling” individuals based on their previous professional associations. He argued that lawyers often represent a diverse array of clients throughout their careers, and one should not be judged solely for views they may have held as legal practitioners.
“I am not sure whether we should be cold calling an individual merely for the views which they may have held as lawyers, because I do believe that there is something in our profession, of judging, that once you assume judicial office, whether it is the peer training, the training which you undergo as judges, your experience as a judge,” said the Chief Justice.
Chief Justice Chandrachud highlighted the duty-bound nature of a lawyer’s role, drawing parallels with the medical profession. “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,” he explained.
Specifically addressing the controversy surrounding Justice Gowri’s political affiliations, the Chief Justice reassured that the Supreme Court Collegium meticulously examined the matter. “We looked at it very, very carefully. The nature of the speech, which that judge is alleged to have made at a particular point in time, again, is looked at very carefully,” he asserted.
The Chief Justice questioned the extent to which an individual should be disqualified from becoming a judge solely based on their past association with a political cause. “To what extent do you disable an individual from becoming a judge? Just by virtue of the fact that they have, at a certain point in time, appeared for a political cause? Lawyers, across their careers, appear for a cross-section of clients,” he said.
Emphasizing the collaborative and inclusive nature of the judicial appointment process, Justice Chandrachud noted that no single arm of the state has a decisive role. He pointed out historical instances where individuals with political affiliations were appointed to judicial posts, citing Justice Krishna Iyer as an example. “My own experience has been that judges who have appeared for a cross-section of diverse political views across the spectrum have turned out to be amazing judges,” he added.
In advocating for a fair and broad-based approach to judicial appointments, Chief Justice Chandrachud aimed to dispel concerns surrounding Justice Gowri’s appointment, asserting the importance of considering an individual’s entire career and experience when evaluating their suitability for a judgeship.
Last visited on 18.11.23
Written by : shalmali ugare.College: DESNFLC , PUNE, Sem: 3rd Intern under legal vidhiya
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