The Congress on Sunday criticised the appointment of former Supreme Court judge Justice S Abdul Nazeer as the Andhra Pradesh governor, saying that it is a “great threat to independence of the judiciary”, reported PTI.

Nazeer was appointed to the post just over a month after his retirement from the Supreme Court on January 4. He was part of the Constitution bench that passed the verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case, allowing the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site of Babri Masjid.

The former judge was also part of the Supreme Court bench that upheld the Centre’s 2016 demonetisation exercise in a judgement passed on January 2.

Besides Nazeer, former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 2020. Gogoi had headed a five-judge bench that passed the verdict in the Ayodhya dispute before his retirement in 2019.

On Sunday, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh shared a video of former Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party Arun Jaitley saying that “pre-retirement judgements are influenced by the desire of post-retirement jobs”.

“Adequate proof of this in the past 3-4 years for sure,” Ramesh tweeted along with the video.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi also shared Jaitley’s view at a press conference, reported PTI. He also dismissed arguments that such appointments have happened several times before and are acceptable.

“We are not talking about persons or individuals,” he added. “Personally, I have very great respect for this person [Nazeer]. I know him, it is not about him at all. As a matter of principle we oppose it, as a matter of principle we believe it is a matter of great diminution and a great threat to the Independence of the judiciary for the reasons I have just quoted on the excerpt I played out.”

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: “If the Honourable courts start to function as per how the Honourable judges see their post retirement sarkari [government] placements then might as well declare ourselves the great banana republic.”

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, however, defended Nazeer’s appointment, saying, “The whole eco-system is once again in full swing on the appointment of a Governor. They should better understand that, they can no more treat India as their personal fiefdom. Now, India will be guided by the people of India as per the provisions of the Constitution of India.”