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Indian woman lawyer sworn-in as judge amid protests

Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri’s appointment was challenged as she had made statements against Christians and Muslims
The appointment of Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court judge was disputed by lawyers in India over her alleged hatred towards minorities, especially Christians

The appointment of Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as a Madras High Court judge was disputed by lawyers in India over her alleged hatred towards minorities, especially Christians. (Photo: YouTube)

Published: February 07, 2023 11:52 AM GMT
Updated: February 07, 2023 11:58 AM GMT

A female senior advocate, accused of hate speech against Christians and Muslims, has been appointed an additional judge of a top court in an Indian province despite opposition from a section of lawyers. 

Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri was sworn in as additional judge of the Madras High Court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Feb. 7 even as the top court in the country was hearing a petition challenging the appointment.

The Supreme Court later dismissed the petition which challenged Gowri’s appointment on grounds that she was once an office-bearer of the women’s wing of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, and on multiple occasions, had made statements against Christians and Muslims in the country. 

“I would like to say Christian groups are more dangerous than Islamic groups. Both are equally dangerous in the context of conversion, especially Love Jihad [a term used for Muslim men marrying girls from other religions to promote Islam]," she said in an interview.

Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court T Raja administered the oath of office and secrecy to Gowri and four others as a section of lawyers protested on the premises.

The Supreme Court collegium comprising five judges with the Chief Justice of India as its head on Jan. 17 recommended Gauri’s name.

Lawyers from Tamil Nadu on Feb. 1 wrote letters to President Droupadi Murmu and the Supreme Court collegium against her appointment.

“Now that she has taken oath as a judge we expect she will work for upholding the constitution and its principles of secularism,” said a Catholic lawyer, who did not want to be named.

He told UCA News on Feb. 7 that people make certain remarks in a particular situation but that does not mean they will not do justice while in a constitutional office like a judge.

“We believe that people change after taking the oath,” the lawyer said.

"During her swearing-in, Victoria Gowri pledged to work toward the liberation of marginalized communities and to promote unity in India," reported The Times of India.

In India, the Supreme Court collegium recommends the names of advocates to be appointed as judges in higher courts.

The federal government, however, sometimes returns certain names for reconsideration if it has reservations. Once they are reaffirmed by the collegium, the government is duty-bound to appoint them as judges.

The federal government, however,  is known to delay the appointments in some such cases.

However, when it came to Justice Gowri, there was no delay from the federal government, which is headed by the BJP, lawyers familiar with the inside developments said.

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