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CJI also referred to former CJI VR Krishna Iyer saying, "one of our greatest judges, Justice Krishna Iyer, who came out with some of the finest judgments, had a political background.."
Speaking at a felicitation ceremony organized for him at Harvard Law School last month, Dr. Justice DY Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India, while answering a question posed to him, said that the political affiliations of Justice Victoria Gowri of the Madras High Court were looked at very carefully by the Collegium while recommending her name for elevation.
"We looked at it very, very carefully. The nature of the speech, which that judge is alleged to have made at a particular point of time, again, is looked at very, is very, very looked at very carefully..", said CJI DY Chandrachud.
CJI Chandrachud further said that the question was in fact "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 of time appeared for a political cause".
"Lawyers across their careers appear for a cross section of clients. Lawyers don't choose their clients. In fact, it is my firm belief that as a lawyer, your 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", CJI added.
In February the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of then Advocate L Victoria Gowri as judge of Madras High Court ahead of her oath-taking ceremony. A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai said that it could not go into the suitability of a candidate who is to be elevated to judgeship.
Petitions before top court had claimed that Ms. Gowri's purported statements of hatred towards Muslims and Christians rendered her ineligible to take the oath.
Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for petitioners, had submitted that "equal justice is part of Article 12. A person who is not in sync with the ideals of the Constitution, should not take the oath as the oath specifies this. Victoria Gowri has uttered things in public which are against ideals of the Constitution."
CJI Chandrachud was felicitated in-person with the ‘Award for Global Leadership’ conferred by the Center on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School on 21 October, 2023.
During his chat with David Wilkins, Professor at Harvard Law School and Faculty Director, Center on the Legal Profession, CJI fondly remembered his time at Harvard as an LLM student in 1982-83 and then an SJD candidate in 1983-1986.
He also spoke about the initiatives at the Supreme Court that have been undertaken during his first year of tenure as the Chief Justice, which include incorporation of technology in court processes, launch of Handbook on combating gender stereotypes, etc.
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