In an interview with the sources, Lawyer Saurabh Kirpal, a gay man, said that he believes his sexual orientation is the probable reason why the three-member Supreme Court collegium, led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, has not taken a decision on his elevation.
It’s been two years since the Supreme Court delivered its historic judgment that scrapped off Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, thus decriminalizing consensual homosexuality. However its collegium is yet to speak up on the appointment of Advocate Kirpal as a Delhi High Court Judge.
Advocate Kirpal gave his consent for judgeship three years ago in 2017 but the appointment panel in the Supreme Court has deferred its deliberations on the recommendation three times since then. “This is all mired in a cloud of innuendo. The problem is that the collegium system is opaque and because of that, I cannot say what is the reason and what is in the mind of judges,” he said to the sources.
“There was some kind of Intelligence Bureau Report, which I don’t have access to but only read about it in the media, that there was some problem with my partner. So, this (non-elevation) has probably got to do with my sexuality.”
Kirpal says that it’s been three years since the judges back in 2017 reached out to him asking if he was willing to be promoted as a judge. He gave his consent on 22 April 2017, after he turned 45 (the minimum age limit to be eligible for a HC judge) because he felt it was important for the community to have a role model. “It was important for the bench to have diversity so I accepted”, he said.
The later events for Kirpal turned out to be what he calls a “series of less than pleasant events”. The collegium members discussed his name three times, found no inadequacies in his candidature and yet took no final call on his appointment.
While his file is still under process, five other names have been approved that figured in the same list as him. His name was last discussed on 1 April 2019 when Justice Ranjan Gogoi was the CJI. The latest collegium resolution of 17 August 2020 made no references to Kirpal’s recommendation.
Kirpal is determined not to back out as he believes it is the right thing to do. “Contrary to a lot of pessimists, I have great hope from the Supreme Court. A long battle has to be fought for the LGBTQIAP+ community. We now have sufficient bandwidth on the legal front. The arc of history is long and it bends towards justice and that is my belief,” Kirpal said.

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