Appointment of Gowri comes as courts are hearing pleas on anti-conversion laws and quotas for marginalized Christians
The appointment of Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court judge has been disputed by lawyers in India over her alleged hatred towards minorities, especially Christians. (Photo: YouTube)
A group of lawyers in southern India has opposed the elevation of a senior female advocate as a judge over her alleged hatred towards minorities, especially Christians.
The lawyers in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu recently wrote to India’s President Droupadi Murmu and the Supreme Court collegium condemning the appointment of former additional solicitor general, Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri, as a judge in the Madras High Court.
The letter said, “Gowri’s regressive views are completely antithetical to constitutional values and reflect her deep-rooted religious bigotry.”
“The collegium’s recommendation of a person who harbors such strong antipathy towards minority communities is disturbing, to say the least,” the advocates said in the letter, signed by 21 lawyers.
The collegium, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, on Jan. 17 recommended Gowri be appointed a Madras High Court judge. She also worked as national general secretary of the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Mahila Morcha (women’s wing).
The lawyers noted that Gowri’s write-ups and interviews “amount to hate speech” which will “spread and incite communal violence” in the country.
In an interview, titled cultural genocide by Christian Missionaries in Bharat (India), she referred to the work of missionaries as a “nefarious activity” of the Roman Catholic Church.
She opposed dancers of Bharatanatyam, a major Indian classical dance form, using Christian songs and accused Christians of forceful religious conversions in the interview.
Quoting her hate speeches, the letter said that in an interview, titled, “More Threat to National Security & Peace? Jihad of Christian Missionary?” Gowri said, “Like Islam is green terror, Christianity is white terror.”
She further stated, “Christian groups are more dangerous than Islamic groups. Both are equally dangerous in the contest of love jihad [a term used for Muslim men marrying girls from other religions to promote Islam].”
She also called Christians in north-eastern India a “problem,” the letter pointed out. Out of seven provincial states in the northeast, two are Christian-majority and many of them have a sizable Christian population.
The lawyers also drew the attention of the president to an article by Gowri in the Organiser, the English language mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the parent party of the BJP.
Neither the collegium nor the president responded to the letter.
According to Christian groups, Tamil Nadu witnessed 227 instances of hate crimes between 2014 and 2022 in which communities, pastors and churches were targeted. In 2019, Tamil Nadu was second only to the northern state of Uttar Pradesh when it came to hate crimes against Christians. Christians make up roughly 12 percent of Tamil Nadu’s population of 9.45 million.
In India, Christians make up 2.3 percent of its 1.4 billion people. Various high courts and the Supreme Court are currently hearing petitions on anti-conversion laws and the reservation quota under affirmative action for marginalized Christians.
“We appreciate the lawyers for upholding the secular credentials of the constitution and opposing a person who has inbuilt hatred towards minorities, especially Christians,” a Catholic lawyer, who did not want to be named, told UCA News on Feb. 3.
“If a person like Gowri is appointed a judge, we cannot expect justice from her as she has a biased mindset,” the lawyer noted.
In India, Supreme Court judges and high court judges in provincial states are appointed by a five-member collegium, including the chief justice. The government is duty-bound to appoint those recommended by the collegium. The BJP, which heads the federal government, however, is against the collegium system of judges appointing judges.
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