‘The partner is foreign… what’s wrong with that?’
The SC collegium said, ‘It appears from Roe’s letters that there are two objections to it… (1) Saurabh Kirpal’s partner is a Swiss citizen and (2) he is in an intimate relationship and is open about his sexual orientation. According to the collegium, spouses of many holding high positions, including constitutional posts, were foreigners…no objection to that.
A collegium headed by Chief Justice Chandrachud pointed out that persons holding constitutional posts (former President KR Narayanan and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar) have foreign partners. The collegium clarified that Kripal’s candidature cannot be opposed merely because the partner is a foreigner.
The collegium also rejected the objections of the Law Ministry.
The latest recommendation of the collegium was signed by the Chief Justice, Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph. The Law Ministry had also objected to Kripal’s name. The Center said Kripal was associated with the pro-gay campaign, and same-sex marriage is not legal in India, so he could be biased. The Collegium reminded the Center of the Constitution Bench’s decision in the Navtej Johar case. The Supreme Court had said that every person has the right to maintain his dignity and personality based on his sexual orientation. The collegium said that not making Kirpal a judge because of his sexual orientation would violate the principles of the Supreme Court.
Saurabh Kripal’s name was considered by the Supreme Court collegium four times. On November 11, 2021, the collegium headed by then Chief Justice NV Ramana first sent Kripal’s name to the government. The name was returned by the government on 25 November 2022. Now on January 18, 2023, the collegium again recommended Kripal’s name.