“Like Islam is green terror, Christianity is white terror!”
I am not saying these words. These are the pearls of wisdom from the necklace of hate, Islamophobia, and Christianophobia worn by the newly appointed Madras High Court Judge Gowri Victoria. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition today challenging the move to appoint advocate LC Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court Judge. The petition has been filed by three lawyers practicing in the Madras High Court on grave concerns that advocate Gowri had allegedly exhibited “strong prejudice” against citizens (Muslims and Christians) on the ground of their religious affiliation. The Bar and Bench has reported the developments mentioned below:
“The petitioners respectfully submit that the strong prejudice shown by Respondent No. 4 [Victoria Gowri] through her vitriolic comments against Muslim and Christian citizens are antithetical to the fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India. Such prejudice will threaten their access to justice,” stated the petition.
Below are five reasons highlighted in the petition, on the basis of which the petitioners contend that Gowri is not fit to hold the position of a High Court Judge and that her appointment suffers from serious defects.
1. Article titled “Aggressive baptising destroying social harmony” published in RSS Publication, ‘Organiser’
The petitioners have submitted that Gowri had authored an article in 2012, in which she wrote,
“But not a finger is lifted to stop allured and forcible conversions and to prevent Christians from conceiving communal conflicts”, and that “for fifty years, the marginalised Hindus have been fighting the mighty Christian diocese. But now the situation is out of control.”
She further wrote, “The Christian sectarianism and bigotry indulging in organised alluring conversions continuously has shrunk the majority Hindus to minorities.”
2. Interview with Bharatmarg captioned “More Threat to National Security & Peace? Jihad or Christian Missionary? – Answers Victoria Gowri
The petitioners have alleged that the said interview, was uploaded on YouTube in February 2018, in which Gowri said, “Like Islam is green terror, Christianity is white terror” and that “Christian groups are more dangerous than Islam groups. Both are equally dangerous in the context of love jihad… If I find my girl in Syrian terrorist camps, I have an objection and that is what I define as love jihad.”
Gowri is stated to have added, “… bombing is less dangerous than the kind of conversions being adopted by the aggressive Christian theologist groups”.
The petitioners further submitted that “She makes a shocking claim that the problem going on in the North East is ‘Christian.’”
3. Another Interview with Bharatmarg captioned, “Cultural genocide by Christian Missionaries in Bharat – Victoria Gowri”
In the said interview, uploaded in June 2018, Gowri is alleged to have referred to the “nefarious activity of the Roman Catholics” and declared that “Bharatanatyam should not be danced for Christian songs.”
4. Affiliation with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
The petitioners have also noted that Gowri’s affiliation with the ruling BJP is well known since she has been the National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Mahila Morcha (the women’s wing of the BJP) and has described herself as “Chowkidar Victoria Gowri” on a now-deactivated Twitter profile.
5. Collegium was not informed beforehand of controversial speeches and statements
The petitioners have submitted that it is apparent that all relevant material concerning advocate Gowri had not been placed before the Supreme Court or Madras High Court collegia before she was recommended for appointment as a High Court Judge.
“Had such material been placed, the same would have revealed her ineligibility to be appointed as a judge of a High Court,” the plea adds.
Gowri’s personal views “against Muslims and Christians” is a relevant factor that should have been considered during the selection process, it is submitted. As such, it is contended that the selection process was not an informed one and does not satisfy the need for an “effective consultation” as laid down in Article 217 (1) of the Constitution of India.
The petitioners have further argued that any such recommendation by the Collegium suffers from a serious defect if it was based on incomplete information and is, thus, null and void.
“The lack of consideration of the hate speeches by [advocate Gowri] before recommending her to be appointed as a judge of a High Court will erode public faith in the integrity of the judiciary,” the plea states.
Petitioners call for guidelines to determine the suitability of persons to be appointed as High Court Judges
In the backdrop of the above allegations, the petitioners have also contended the Constitution of India and Supreme Court precedents call for judges to be independent and impartial.
It has been submitted that several judgments of the Supreme Court – including the 2016 NJAC Judgment, Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association & Ors. v. Union of India, and N Kannadasan v. Ajoy Khose & Ors – have laid down that the absence of prejudice is the essence of an independent judiciary and that a person cannot be recommended as a permanent Judge if they are found to be lacking such basic qualities.
Reference is also made to the judgment in Sri Kumar Padma Prasad v. Union of India, wherein an interim order was passed restraining an appointee from taking the oath and assuming the office of a judge.
The petitioners have further asserted the appointment of Victoria Gowri as a High Court Judge, in view of these allegations, would lead to a violation of Articles 217 (Appointment and conditions of the office of a Judge of a High Court) and 50 (Separation of judiciary from executive) of the Constitution of India.
Apart from seeking to restrain the move to appoint Gowri as a High Court Judge, the petitioners have also urged the top Court to frame guidelines on the criteria for selecting a person as a judge of the High Court.
In connection with this, the petitioners have also urged the Court to consider whether “there are inbuilt disqualifications in Art. 217(2) of the Constitution of India against considering a person with strong religious bias and hatred against citizens based on religion for the post of a Judge of a High Court.”
A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud had initially said that the matter will be listed on Friday after a mention was made this morning.
However, minutes later, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju intimated, via Twitter, that Gowri’s appointment as a Judge had been cleared, along with the appointment of several other Judges to three High Courts. This prompted another urgent mention before the Supreme Court which, in turn, agreed to hear the case on 7th February. Meanwhile, two other lawyers have filed a second petition challenging Gowri’s proposed appointment as a Judge, raising similar concerns and seeking similar reliefs.
For appointments to even Class IV jobs, police verification is sought. How come there is no police verification for judges’ jobs? Why did the police not prosecute Victoria Gowri for abusing Islam and Christianity and her hateful writings? How did the Supreme Court Collegium not know about the alleged hateful antecedents of Gowri Victoria? The judges of the Supreme Court are supposed to be learned, judges. How did this oversight happen on part of the Collegium? Why did the Narendra Modi government promote Islamophobia and Christianophobia by accepting the Collegium recommendation to appoint Gowri Victoria while it has been stalling appointments of noble lawyers with a clean record?
I would say that this is a serious lapse on the part of the Supreme Court Collegium and the Government of India. The Chief Justice must direct his fellow judges in the collegium to tender their resignations for serious lapses in their duties regarding the appointment of Gowri Victoria. The Narendra Modi Government must be censured and the Law Minister must be sacked.
No efforts must be made at the level of the Government of India and the Supreme Court to undermine the secular democracy of our great nation known for the highest principles of integrity. Gowri Victoria must be immediately prosecuted for spreading hate, Islamophobia, and Christianophobia. Doors must be tightly shut for the extremists and the hate mongers to enter the High Courts and Supreme Court as judges. The hate mongers in governments – central and states have already shown the Indian polity in poor light at the international level. Mahatma Gandhi’s soul must be churning in disquiet at this blatant hate of fellow citizens and efforts to legitimize the same with alleged official and judicial connivance, if one may say so!