A three-member Supreme Court collegium led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has recommended the elevation of senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as the judge of the Delhi High Court. According to a statement by the collegium, the decision was taken at a meeting held on November 11. The other two members of the collegium are Justices UU Lalit and AM Khanwilkar.
The recommendation for the elevation took place after the decision on the issue was deferred several times amid reports of opposition from the government.
In March, then Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, had asked the central government to clear its stand on the elevation of Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court.
That was the fourth time that a final decision on Mr Kirpal’s elevation was deferred.
Mr Kirpal was recommended by the Delhi High Court collegium headed by Justice Gita Mittal for the first time in October 2017.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court collegium decided to take it up for consideration “after some time”.
The collegium deferred its decision when it came up again in January 2019 and subsequently in April 2019.
On September 6, 2018 – two days after the Supreme Court collegium first considered and deferred Mr Kirpal’s name for appointment as judge — a five-judge Constitution bench read down Indian Penal Code Section 377, which criminalised homosexuality.
There have been reports that the government had red-flagged Mr Kirpal’s elevation because of concerns about a potential conflict of interest as his partner is European and works with the Swiss embassy.
There, however, has also been conjecture that the delay in recommending Mr Kirpal’s name was due to his sexual orientation. If appointed, Mr Kirpal would be India’s first openly gay judge.