Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri judge madras court
Madras High Court Acting Chief Justice, T Raja with the newly sworn-in Madras High Court Additional Judge Justice Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri, in Chennai on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023. Image Credit: ANI

Chennai: Advocate Lakshman Chandra Victoria Gowri, whose nomination for the post of Madras High Court additional judge was mired in controversy, assumed office on Tuesday.

High Court acting Chief Justice, Justice T. Raja administered the oath of office to Victoria Gowri.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea against the appointment of Gowri.

A bench of Justices Sanjeev Khanna and BR Gavai declined to stay the oath ceremony of advocate Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court judge.

The court said that it cannot presume that the Collegium was not aware of Gowri’s political background or her controversial statements and that the top court would not at this juncture interfere with the Collegium’s decision.

“We are not entertaining the writ petition. Reasons will follow,” the apex court said while concluding the hearing.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for the petitioners, said Victoria Gowri has been rendered unfit to take oath due to her public utterances.

Justice Khanna said there are instances of persons with political backgrounds being appointed as judges.

The materials are of speeches from 2018 and the Collegium must have gone through before recommending the name of Victoria Gowri, the bench observed.

Justice BR Gavai said, “I also have a political background before joining the court as a judge, I have been a judge for 20 years and my political background has not come in my way.”

Ramachandran said that this was not a matter of mere political speeches or opinions by Victoria Gowri but many of her statements amount to hate speech.

He said, “Hate speech is something which runs anti thesis to the constitution and such an oath will be an insincere oath and only on paper.”

The bench then said that the Collegium must have considered such material and passing a judicial order now would amount to going against the Collegium’s wisdom. The apex court also said that the appointment of Victoria Gowri is only as an additional judge and the Collegium can reconsider its decision and not make her permanent after her tenure as an additional judge is over.

The top court was hearing pleas to set aside the Collegium recommendation for her appointment.