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Sexual orientation of candidate for judgeship has nothing to do with ability: CJI Chandrachud

Sexual orientation of candidate for judgeship has nothing to do with ability: CJI Chandrachud

New Delhi: Amid a controversy over the Supreme Court recommending for a second time the elevation of gay senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said on Saturday the sexual orientation of a candidate for judgeship has nothing to do with his professional ability.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave, 2023, the CJI said when the Collegium considers the candidates for appointment as judges in high courts or the Supreme Court, it is conscious of the fact that it cannot open every aspect of their life to the society.

"The candidate (Kirpal) you are referring to, every aspect of which was mentioned in the report of the Intelligence Bureau, was in the public domain. The candidate in question is open about his sexual orientation. So, when the IB flagged something, we were not really opening up IB sources of information. What could be the danger? Someone might say if you put the IB report in public domain, you might be compromising the sources of information of the IB on the issues of national security, somebody's life may be in danger.

"This was not a case like that. The IB report dwelt on the sexual orientation of an openly declared gay candidate for prospective judgeship. It's known to the entire profession and widely reported in the media. All that we said in the resolution was that the sexual orientation of a candidate has nothing to do with the ability or the constitutional entitlement of the candidate to assume a high Constitution post of a high court judge," he said.

In January, the SC Collegium headed by CJI Chandrachud had stood firm on its decision to appoint gay advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of a constitutional court in India despite Centre’s objections against his elevation.

Union law minister Kiren Rijiju had criticised the selection process, asserting that as per Constitution the appointment of judges is the duty of the government. Rijiju also said the appointment of judges was not a judicial work but “purely administrative in nature”.

Justice Chandrachud's predecessor Justice UU Lalit also supported the Collegium process, saying it was the “ideal system” while another former CJI SA Bobde favoured primacy of judiciary but was of the view that the government's opinion was vital.

‘As the Chief Justice, I have to take the system as it is given to us... I am not saying every system is perfect but this is the best system we have developed. The object of this system was to maintain independence which is a cardinal value. We have to insulate the judiciary from outside influences if the judiciary has to be independent. That is the underlying feature of Collegium,’ Justice Chandrachud said.

With inputs from PTI

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TAGS:Advocate Saurabh Kirpal CJI DY Chandrachud Supreme Court 
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