Senior defense lawyer Saurabh Kirpal, whose appointment to the High Court judge has been on hold since at least 2017, told NDTV on Thursday that he believed the reason behind the uncertainty was his sexual orientation.
The comments come amid renewed focus on judge appointments shelved by the government, which drew dissent from the Supreme Court last week, and a debate over how judges are selected – by a group known as the Academy.
“The reason is my sexual orientation, I don’t think the government should necessarily appoint openly gay people to judges,” Mr Kilpal, 50, said in an interview.
“Of course, that’s not the stated reason. It’s part of the problem with the academy system. They don’t give a reason for their decision. But it’s also a problem with the government not following it. The law is like this,” said the spokesperson, who stands on the legality of homosexuality in India. Advocates at the forefront of the fight against globalization say.
The federal government has been waiting for Mr Kirpal’s appointment proposal for five years, extending the wait for the first openly gay man to become an Indian court judge.
His name was first suggested by the Delhi High Court, but the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which conducts background checks, reportedly said his partner, who is a European national, could pose a security risk.
The full Supreme Court delayed a final decision on Mr. Kirpal’s recommendations three times between 2019 and 2020, according to the agency’s report.
Finally, in November 2021, a full panel of the Supreme Court headed by then Chief Justice NV Ramana overruled the central government’s initial objections and approved Mr Kirpal’s promotion to a judge in the Delhi High Court.
Still, the government has yet to announce Mr Kirpal’s appointment – a delay that prompted an outcry from the Supreme Court on Friday.
The court said it was “unacceptable” to retain the names, including those reiterated by the full Supreme Court panel.
Mr Kirpal also said he was also concerned about the collegiate system, which had also led to public debate between the government and the judiciary.
“I’m not one of those who think the academy system is a good system. I think it has a lot of flaws. It needs to be improved. Maybe the government needs to play some formal role in appointments,” he said.
He added: “Until this is done, the way every citizen of the country abides by the law, it and the government is bound by the same judgment and Collegium system.”
Asked to elaborate on his view that his sexuality had hindered his ascension, Mr Kripal said, “No one in government, or in the Academy, has ever reached out to me for my advice. A lot of times I’ve heard the reason given was that my partner was a human rights activist, but he wasn’t. He works as a visa officer at the embassy and has nothing to do with human rights. But apparently, no one has contacted me, so I can’t refrain from giving any clarification. “
“I think the government is still opposed to certain views or has a certain view on certain views [Section] 377 (criminalizing homosexuality) and homosexuality.They never opposed 377 legalization [but] They never filed an affidavit saying it should be decriminalized,” he said.
Mr Kripal also said the government’s views on LGBTQ issues were “outdated”.
“We saw the government’s point of view in the marriage equality petition before the Delhi High Court, where they said very frankly and openly that marriage should only be between a man and a woman,” he said.
“It’s a very outdated view of what it means to be gay and what it means to take a certain position on sexuality. So of course there is a view within the government that may be more conservative than it is elsewhere,” he said Say.
“So while 377 itself is gone, I think all the other attributes of full personality, full citizenship, which the judgment promised, have not materialized and the government’s behavior is a little bit behind,” Mr Kirpal said.
“The fact that trans people are not being retained, even though this was promised in the judgment, shows that there is a certain reticence when it comes to accepting the fact that the trans and queer communities are vulnerable. The government needs to go the extra mile to ensure that equality,” he said.