BARRING any fresh roadblocks by the Narendra Modi government, the high judiciary in India could soon get its first openly gay judge. Ignoring attempts by the Union government to stall his name from being cleared for appointment as Judge of the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court collegium (SCC) headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana has recommended the name of senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal for the post.
Sources in the SCC told India Ahead News that the collegium decided to ignore reservations expressed by the Modi government over Kirpal being appointed HC Judge since they were found to be without any basis.
As first reported by India Ahead News, the then CJI, SA Bobde, had written a letter earlier this year to then Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, asking him to provide material to substantiate the reasons behind government’s opposition to Kirpal’s name. The CJI had said that if the government didn’t revert back within four weeks, the collegium would take a decision without waiting for the same.
It is learnt that following CJI Bobde’s letter, the government sent some material to the SCC, much of it already in the public domain.
In his letter to the government, CJI Bobde had pointed out that the Supreme Court had not been able to take any decision with regard to the recommendation of the Delhi High Court collegium to elevate Kirpal to the bench.
It wasn’t the first letter sent by the CJI to the government with regard to the candidate. He had earlier written a letter in January 2020 but had not received any response.
The government, basing its view on a communication by an intelligence agency, had opposed the move to elevate Kirpal in view of his perceived sexual orientation and close association with a foreign national.
However, the communication, based mainly on material culled from the Facebook page of some individuals, including Kirpal himself, was devoid of any solid proof to buttress the agency’s contention.
Considered a very good lawyer, Kirpal’s name was recommended by the Delhi High Court collegium unanimously in October 2017.
However, the SCC decided to defer its decision about his name following the adverse inputs.
During discussions, it was, however, felt that the reports were misleading and also had nothing to back the contention that elevating Kirpal could lead to conflict of interests.
During discussions, it was also pointed out by members of the SCC that the Supreme Court had itself decriminalised Section 377 in so far it dealt with consensual sex between homosexual adults.
On his part, Kirpal has rejected suggestions that he should withdraw his consent for the post of judge, asserting that even though he believed his sexual orientation was the “only stumbling block” that prevented him from being made a judge, he would not withdraw his consent.