Former CJI as Governor: Setting a wrong precedent?
Former CJI as Governor: Setting a wrong precedent?

Former CJI as Governor: Setting a wrong precedent?

The News Minute| Bangalore| September 2, 2014| 10.00 am IST

The move to appoint P. Sathasivam, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) as the next governor of Kerala is causing unease among not just political parties, but also among political watchers. 

The appointment also raises some issues that are germane to centre-state relationships and the habit of the ruling party in the centre to appoint friendly or pliant governors in states, especially in those where they don’t have a majority. 

Though largely ceremonial, the governor is the eyes and ears of the centre in the states, a situation that has been exploited by all parties. This appointment has taken that one step further by appointing a former judge – what is now to prevent other judges from working towards a governorship? 

Several issues have been raised, not the least of which is that as CJI, P.Sathasivam adopted a go slow policy in all cases relating to AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa.

DMK leader TKS Elangovan told The News Minute that Sathasivam’s evident closeness with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, they believe was the reason for the appointment. 

The AAP and other parties have questioned if the appointment was quid pro quo for verdicts in 2013 by the judge, that provided relief to Amit Shah.

Justice Sathasivam told NDTV that he was rejecting charges of quid pro quo. "Any other judge in my position would have given the same verdict. There can't be two FIRs on the same case," he told the channel.

Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chanday has also made his displeasure publicly known by saying he was not consulted in the process that led to declaring P. Sathasivam as his state’s Governor. 

Kerala Congress President Mr V.M. Sudheeran, however, has given a constitutional angle to the reported move. He said that it was improper that a CJI, who administers oath to the President, to be working under the President as a Governor.

It is not just political parties, but even the Bar Association has opposed the move. 

The AIBA Chairman, Addish C. Aggarwala, said that the move was ‘ill-advised and unethical,’ The Indian Express reported. “How can a former CJI be appointed Governor? What kind of a signal is the government trying to send? The BJP, when it was in Opposition, had repeatedly said it was opposed to post-retirement jobs for retired judges. What has changed now?” Aggarwala said. 

He also pointed to the fact that Justice Sathasivam was a candidate to be appointed as the Lokpal and by trying to make him a Governor, the Union government was trying to subvert the institution of Lokpal. He also said that the AIBA will write to the President of India to oppose the appointment.

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