Protest over posting of ex-CJI as Kerala Guv
Protest over posting of ex-CJI as Kerala Guv, Former Chief Justice of India, Palaniswamy Sathasivam, has been appointed Governor of Kerala a week after Sheila Dikshit resigned from the post.
New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India, Palaniswamy Sathasivam, has been appointed Governor of Kerala a week after Sheila Dikshit resigned from the post.
The appointment comes as opposition parties have strongly criticised a political post for the former top judge, with the Congress alleging a "quid pro quo".
Justice Sathasivam said: "If I say no to this job, I have to do farming in my village. As a former Chief Justice of India I can have good relations with the state and the Centre and it will benefit the people of Kerala." A statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan confirmed Justice Sathasivam's appointment hours after 118 Kerala lawyers sent a resolution to President Pranab Mukherjee, asking him not to go through with it.
The lawyers said if a person who held the highest judicial post is made Governor, which is a political appointment, then it will impact judicial independence.
The Congress has alleged that Justice Sathasivam's appointment is linked to a case in which he 'helped' BJP president Amit Shah. The party pointed out that the BJP had opposed post-retirement appointments for judges.
"There are instances of judges taking charge of the Green Tribunal, National Human Rights Commission... But what is in the persona or decisions of the most recently retired judge that has pleased the PM and BJP President Amit Shah? This raises a question," Congress leader Anand Sharma said on Tuesday. Justice Sathasivam was Chief Justice of India from August last year to April.
Just before his term ended, Justice Sathasivam was on the Supreme Court bench that scrapped a second FIR or police complaint against Amit Shah in a fake encounter killing case, saying it was linked to the bigger Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing case and did not need to be separate.
Voicing his objection, former Chief Justice of India VN Khare has said that such a move will lead to more political intervention in judiciary in the coming years.
"There is no precedent to this. No Chief Justice of India has ever been offered or accepted this post. This is an individual viewpoint. He must have thought it appropriate. CJI is fourth in the hierarchy," Khare said on the latest controversy to hit the Narendra Modi government. He also maintained that he would not have accepted the proposal if it was offered to him. "I was never offered and would not have taken it myself either," he said adding that there might be a controversy about his previous judgements if he takes up the post as his decisions would be linked with the government in power.
"If you create a precedent it may be followed. Other judges may say if A has accepted it then there is no harm in it. I will not advise Sathasivam to take it up, but it is his individual decision," he said. "If such precedent is allowed to prevail then this may open up more political intervention in the coming years," the former Chief Justice of India said. Former CJI justice A M Ahmadi, said, "Normally retired judges from either high court or Supreme Court should not be in politics. There are some precedents and convention one has to follow."
While the BJP has defended the government's decision, there appears to a rift in the Congress over the issue.
Senior leader Manish Tewari was quoted as saying that “Congress too appointed jurists to key posts", party spokesperson Anand Sharma stressed that Congress opposes move, and other views are personal opinion of individuals.