The Centre on Monday notified the appointment of advocate Lekshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri as an additional judge of the Madras High Court.

On January 17, the Supreme Court collegium, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, had recommended the appointment of Gowri and four others to the Madras High Court. But lawyers and legal experts criticised the collegium’s move to recommend Gowri’s name as she is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and has previously made offensive comments about Christians and Muslims.

Last week, members of the Madras High Court Bar also wrote to the collegium and President Droupadi Murmu, drawing their attention to the comments made by her about minority communities.

The letters noted that Gowri’s “regressive views are completely antithetical to foundational Constitutional values and reflect her deep-rooted religious bigotry”. This, the lawyers argued, made her unfit to be appointed as a High Court judge.

On Monday, Chandrachud said that the collegium has taken cognisance of the complaints against Gowri, Bar and Bench reported. “There are certain developments which have taken place,” he added.

The chief justice said a petition challenging Gowri’s appointment will be heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Objections against Gowri’s appointment

In their letters to the Supreme Court collegium and the president, the Madras High Court lawyers referred to two interviews that Gowri gave to a YouTube channel purportedly hosted by the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The interviews are titled “Cultural genocide by Christian missionaries in Bharat” and “More threat to national security & peace? Jihad or Christian missionary?”.

The lawyers also drew the attention of the president and the collegium to an article written by her in the Organiser, the English language mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.

“The Christian sectarianism and bigotry indulging in organised alluring conversions continuously has shrunk the majority Hindus to minorities,” Gowri said in the article. “...But not a finger is lifted to stop allured and coerced conversions and to prevent Christians from conceiving communal conflicts.”

The advocates in their letters said her remarks in these interviews and the article amounts to hate speech and are likely to incite communal violence. They asked the president and the collegium how any litigant belonging to Christian or Muslim communities “ever hope to get justice in her court if she becomes the judge”.

The lawyers noted that Gowri also described herself as “Chowkidar Victoria Gowri”.