Ex-CJI Sathasivam is Governor, jurists say it may lead to more ‘political intervention’

65-year-old Sathasivam is the first non-political person appointed for a gubernatorial post by the new NDA govt.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 4, 2014 8:57 am
SATHA-480 Sathasivam said even at the time of his retirement, he had stated that he would accept any position befitting his stature.

Even as the President on Wednesday appointed former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam as the Governor of Kerala, many jurists, including a former CJI, opposed the decision. However, Sathasivam defended his decision to accept the post, saying he saw “nothing wrong”.

Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone from his native village in Erode district of Tamil Nadu, Sathasivam said, “Since my retirement (on April 26), I have not accepted any arbitration or done any consultation work for corporates as some other former CJIs are doing. I have stayed in my village to tend to my small farm. I didn’t lobby for the post. There is nothing wrong in accepting it.”

Sathasivam, who is set to take oath on September 5, said even at the time of his retirement, he had stated that he would accept any position befitting his stature. “Any job that is offered to a retired CJI must be befitting the post of CJI. If such a thing is offered, I can consider,” he had told The Indian Express after his retirement.

Asked to comment on the Congress’s allegation that he was being rewarded for “pleasing” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Sathasivam said, “When we dealt with the case (FIR against Shah in the Tulsiram Prajapati case), nobody knew that he (Shah) would become BJP president. We did not give him a clean chit in the case. In fact, I shifted the Sohrabuddin case to Maharashtra. It is wrong if such an allegation is levelled against a former CJI.”

Objecting to Sathasivam’s appointment, former CJI V N Khare said, “There is no precedent to this. No former CJI has ever been offered or accepted this post. If you create a precedent it may be followed. But if such a precedent is allowed to prevail, then this may open up more political intervention in the coming years.”

Asked if he would advise Sathasivam against accepting the post, Khare said, “Why should I advise him? It depends on an individual’s viewpoint. What I can say is that I would not have accepted such a post. I was never offered and would not have taken it either.” He said a former CJI accepting such a post could lead to questions about his earlier judgements.

Former Supreme Court Judge K T Thomas said this could erode the public’s confidence in the judiciary. “To sustain public confidence, at least a quarantine period of two years should be there,” he said, adding that if such a post was offered to him, he would not accept it. “But this is my personal view. Any appointment should be commensurate with the work the Judge had done in the Supreme Court or High Court,” he said.

Eminent jurist Fali S Nariman criticised Sathasivam’s willingness to take up the gubernatorial position, calling it “most improper and unfortunate”. “I do not appreciate or approve of the idea of a former CJI, or a Judge of the Supreme Court, accepting a sinecure appointment, like that of a Governor,” he said.

“Judges seeking jobs or a seat in Parliament from the Executive gravely affects the concept of independence of the judiciary, proudly and repeatedly proclaimed — alas only by sitting Judges of the Supreme Court — as a basic feature of the Constitution,” he said.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said Sathasivam’s appointment would be “politically corrupt” if he had sought this favour during his tenure as CJI. “If he asked for this position while being a CJI, it is venal, and if he did so after his retirement, it is still very improper. An inquiry is to be made if had solicited this favour,” Dhavan said.

Former Law Minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid said Sathasivam should reflect on the correctness of the decision. “He should think it over… if he wants to take on the hurly burly of politics, especially in the prevailing political atmosphere and the ongoing controversies,” Khurshid said.

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First Published on: September 3, 2014 8:38 pm
  1. G
    GD Jasuja
    Oct 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm
    How could one explain the unprecedented move of appointing a retired CJI Sathasivam as the Governor of Kerala by the the present government? How can a former CJI stoop to the level of a state governor at the instance of a ruling party? What signal is going to the judiciary from such job postings? Was the government trying to convey to all the past and future CJIs their worth after retirement?
    1. A
      Sep 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm
      In those cases at least a cooling period of 5 yrs ped n here most recently retired CJ has been appointed hence the opposition... Secondly not criticising a particular incident dsnt mean al such instances are beyond any scrutiny
      1. J
        Joby Joseph
        Sep 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm
        Instead of cribbing all bureaucrats and judges should make far reaching decisions and other political parties should adopt these very effective methods to further their cause.
        1. @
          Sep 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm
          No judge shoul be appointed on any public,pvt or govt job
          1. B
            Sep 4, 2014 at 11:40 am
            1. S
              Sep 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm
              It is funny how some eminent persons opposed demands for resignation of congress politician governors, claimed that the office of governor is a consutional position. Today, these same persons claim the office of governor is a political office and hence esteemed Justice Sadasivam should not take up the position. Why this opportunistic kite flying?
              1. D
                deevee Pariyarath
                Sep 3, 2014 at 10:55 pm
                He should have declined the offer especially respecting the view of eminent jurists
                1. H
                  Sep 4, 2014 at 5:37 am
                  Where was the so called jurists, when Fathima Beevi & Sukhdev Kang appointed Tamilnadu & Kerala Governors respectively.
                  1. A
                    Sep 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm
                    There are many judges of SC and other HCs retired years agoavailable. Why appoint a man who retired only very recently? This definitely creates suion in the minds of people. Besides, he is going to a state, which has a row with his home state-Tamil Nadu on Mullai Periyar dam issue. He may, during his tenure have totake certain political decisions that may be censured by political groups of either state. It will demean his stature as former CJI. It is very inappropriate as his actions could be misconstrued. Once again,BJP has proved that it does not practice what it says when in opposition. The promise of Ache Din has actually become appalling days
                    1. K
                      Keiky M
                      Sep 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm
                      A corrupted appointment setting a bad precedent even if it was an honest one! Later there will be lucrative foreign appointments. The President should have showed his political aen in avoiding this in the interest of supremacy of the Judiciary. The BJP is following a debatable course in its infancy.
                      1. L
                        Sep 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm
                        Time to repay all favours received
                        1. P
                          plain truth
                          Sep 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm
                          This is setting a very bad precedent and raising suion of a quid pro quo.
                          1. N
                            Niladrinath Mohanty
                            Sep 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm
                            I also feel that Chief Justice of Supreme Court and other judges of the court and Chief Justice of High Courts should not be offered political patronage, Similarly Chief Election Commissioner(CEC) should not be offered tickets by political parties. One retired CEC joined a political party and became member of Rajya Sabha and minister.
                            1. N
                              Sep 4, 2014 at 10:44 am
                              I am not sure if it is logical to continue with colonial posts like 'governor' in 21st century...Modi has promised radical changes/big bang reforms...abolishing the post of governor is a much needed reform...BJP should immediately s this post of governor..the houses allocated to the governors should be transformed to hospitals, night shelters for poor country men...this will also help in getting rid of unnecessary hype over appointment/removal of governor..
                              1. R
                                Raghavendra Kumar
                                Sep 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm
                                It is a sad day for Judiciary dependence of judiciary will be a big question mark .Two pillars --executive and legislature are already hand in glove .Joining hands of judiciary with Legislature shall ring alarm bells ---the impending downfall of Democracy --Our Consution makers dream shattered .
                                1. S
                                  Sep 4, 2014 at 8:31 am
                                  Jurists seem to be a confused lot. Sometimes there are complaints that half the CJIs are tainted. At other times people complain that unworthy people are appointed as Governors. What is the difference between CJI becoming a NHRC chairman or Governor? Looks like whatever you do people complain. If you exclude politicians, bureaucrats, judges and businessmen to avoid conflict of interest, who should be appointed as Governors? May be sportsmen, film stars or dancers. Who really is an eminent person? Relative of Mahatma hi ? Journalists?
                                  1. V
                                    Sep 4, 2014 at 3:44 am
                                    The award (reward?) of governorship to a Judge does smack of Quid Pro Quo. and the Congress is using it as a stick to beat the BJP with. It would be a healthy convention if such appointmentsare made only two years of a Judge's retirement. Caesar's wifehas to be above suion. Sathya Pararth
                                    1. V
                                      Vibhor Solanki
                                      Sep 4, 2014 at 11:44 am
                                      Sathasivam never gave a judgment in favour of Amit Shah - so his appointment as Kerala Governor is not a quid pro quo by Modi government. But Sathasivam did give a favourable verdict in the Rs 2500 crore SEBI scam involving among others the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, his so-called adviser Omita Paul and some others in a case against them that was filed by Prashant Bhushan. So his appointment has the blessings of the president and his secretary. It is for the media and Mr. Prashant Bhushan to unearth the truth in this sickening matter. It is rightly being said that the appointment will lead to questioning of Sathasivams earlier judgments including in the Rs 2500 crore SEBI scam.
                                      1. C
                                        Sep 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm
                                        I sincerely hope he would bring glory to the Governors post as he had extensive experience in admin, judiciary and with wisdom with out any bias in discharging his duties. During the last few decades this position along with many others were degraded by politicians for the best reasons known to them. We know Governors appointed by one party acting in high handed manner on the other parties ruled states bringing in the utmost disgrace to this office.Hope he would be a trend setter to the future governors in the nation Jaihind
                                        1. J
                                          JAYA RAJU
                                          Sep 6, 2014 at 6:26 am
                                          definitely it undermines the independence of judiciary .slowly the judiciary will be made subservient to the political set up as the judges will be lured by office of profit after retirement and toe the line of government of the da before the retirement.
                                          1. J
                                            JAYA RAJU
                                            Sep 6, 2014 at 6:50 am
                                            it is a very bad precedent.it should not be allowed to happen as it undermines the independence of judiciary.
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