The Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation on January 17 to appoint advocate Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a judge of the Madras High Court has faced criticism from legal professionals. Gowri, affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, has been accused of making remarks about Christians and Muslims that some argue constitute hate speech.
Critics have raised concerns over the collegium’s decision to recommend Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court judge, pointing out that information about her controversial remarks and political affiliation is publicly accessible. The collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India and two senior-most Supreme Court judges, is expected to consider the Union government’s input, including background checks conducted by intelligence agencies, when making such recommendations.
Following the recommendation, it was highlighted that Gowri held the position of National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha. Subsequently, on January 30, Article 14 reported on Gowri’s longstanding ties to the BJP, citing various articles and interviews where she made defamatory comments about religious minorities. In a 2018 interview, she referred to Islam as “green terror” and Christianity as “white terror,” also asserting that both communities were involved in “love jihad,” a conspiracy theory linked to Hindutva groups. Additionally, she claimed that Christianity posed a threat to “India’s national security and peace.”
On Wednesday, 21 lawyers from the Madras High Court wrote to President Droupadi Murmu, urging her not to approve Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri’s appointment as a judge. The lawyers pointed out Gowri’s speeches, stating that her views go against constitutional values and reveal religious bigotry, making her unsuitable for the role. The letter expressed concern that such a recommendation could harm the public perception of judicial impartiality.
The letter to President Droupadi Murmu states that Gowri’s interviews contain hate speech likely to incite communal discord. It questions whether litigants from Muslim or Christian communities could expect justice in her court. The letter calls for clarification on how someone spreading hate speech against minorities is recommended for a High Court judge position. Notably, Gowri’s BJP-affiliated Twitter account has been deleted, and one of the interviews cited in the Article 14 report has been removed.
A senior advocate, preferring anonymity, suggested that the Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government may have provided negative feedback on Gowri. Another senior advocate mentioned the collegium potentially facing external pressures and forwarding Gowri’s name despite awareness of her history. Gowri’s appointment as a Madras High Court judge awaits clearance from the Union executive.