New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India, Palaniswamy Sathasivam, has been appointed Governor of Kerala in the middle of a raging debate over whether such political appointments will compromise judicial independence. (Move to Appoint ex-Chief Justice of India as Governor Sparks Debate)
Justice Sathasivam, 65, is expected to be sworn in on Friday. "If I say no to this job, I have to do farming in my village. As a former Chief Justice of India I can have good relations with the state and the Centre and it will benefit the people of Kerala," he told NDTV.
The opposition Congress has reminded the BJP of its own objections to post retirement positions for judges. Last year, Arun Jaitley, now union minister, had written in a blog, "I have held a strong view that Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts must not be eligible for jobs in the Government after retirement. In some cases, the pre-retirement judicial conduct of a judge is influenced by the desire to get a post retirement assignment." Read the Article
The Congress alleges that Justice Sathasivam's appointment is linked to a case involving BJP president Amit Shah.
"What is in the persona or decisions of the most recently retired judge that has pleased the PM (Narendra Modi) and BJP President Amit Shah? This raises a question," Congress leader Anand Sharma said yesterday. ('Which Verdict Pleased Modi, Amit Shah?', Asks Congress)
Justice Sathasivam was Chief Justice of India from August last year to April.
Just before his term ended, Justice Sathasivam was on the Supreme Court bench that scrapped a second FIR or police complaint against Amit Shah in a fake encounter killing case in Gujarat, saying it was linked to the bigger Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case and did not need to be separate. (My Family Has Not Committed Any Impropriety, Says Justice Sathasivam)
Justice Sathasivam has denied any "quid pro quo" for his decision on Amit Shah. "Any other judge would have given the same verdict," he said.
A statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan confirmed Justice Sathasivam's appointment hours after over 100 Kerala lawyers sent a resolution to President Pranab Mukherjee, asking him not to go through with it. (118 Kerala Lawyers Appeal to President, Say ex-CJI Can't be Made Governor)
Echoing political objections, the lawyers said if a person who held the highest judicial post is made Governor, which is a political appointment, then it will impact judicial independence.