Advocate Saurabh Kirpal, who is a queer, believes his sexuality to be the reason behind not being considered for a High Court judge position by a three-member Supreme Court collegium led by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde. He is the first lawyer to open up on such an issue.
In 2017, then Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice Gita Mittal had proposed Saurabh Kirpal’s name for the elevation as a judge. So, he gave his consent three years ago but unfortunately, the appointment panel in the SC collegium kept deferring the deliberations on the elevation of Kirpal consecutively three times since 2017.
Advocate Kirpal, during an interview, stated, “This is all mired in a cloud of innuendo. The problem is that the collegium system is opaque and because it is opaque, I cannot say what is the reason and what is there in the mind of judges.”
“There was some kind of an Intelligence Bureau report, which I don’t have access to but only read about in the media, that there was some problem with my partner. So, this (non-elevation) has probably got to do with my sexuality,” said Kirpal.
Kirpal, in a hope to be a role model for other members of the community, gave his consent when asked whether he is willing to be a judge.
But during that period, many conflictive thoughts crossed his mind whether to accept it or not. He said, “Work was going very well, and still is. It was difficult to give all of that up, to give up my freedom, to give up the money, it was all a tough call for me.”
He agreed to the decision on April 22, 2017, four days later when he became eligible for the post of judge completing 45 years of his age. “It was important for the bench to have diversity so I accepted,” said Kirpal.
Kirpal during his interview mentioned that he considers all the developments in the past three years a series of less than pleasant events. His name was discussed thrice. No inadequacies were found in Kirpal’s candidature, yet no decision for his elevation was initiated by the collegium.
Advocate Kirpal refused to back out and said, “If the court does not want to make me a judge, it should be on them (judges). I took a call to do the right thing, what I believed to be the right thing. I will stick to it.”
“Contrary to a lot of pessimists, I have great hope from the Supreme Court. A long battle has to be fought for the LGBTQ community. We now have sufficient bandwidth on the legal front. The arc of history is long and it always bends towards justice. And that is my belief,” Kirpal added further.