NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court council has appointed Saurabh Kirpal to the Delhi High Court as a judge, a historic first because Kirpal is openly homosexual. Last Thursday, the SC collegium, chaired by Chief Justice NV Ramana, made a judgement on Kirpal's elevation and forwarded the proposal to the law ministry.
Although certain collegium proposals have been known to irritate the law ministry, appointments to the constitutional courts are normally a formality. Kirpal's suggestion has a lot of twists and turns in it. Since 2017, his name has been on the shortlist for a judgeship, but it has been postponed owing to his outspokenness about being homosexual. Kirpal has talked publicly about his sexual orientation, and despite the HC's recommendation, the collegium has stalled making a decision on his elevation at least four times.
When it did, the Centre was hesitant to approve it. Because it is a reiteration, the standing committee's proposal this time should pave the way for his appointment as a judge of the Delhi high court.
His appointment might help LGBT supporters obtain access to the country's constitutional courts, as well as lessen social biases against them. Kirpal is still young and might be appointed to the Supreme Court, which his father, BN Kirpal, formerly presided over.
Before becoming a senior advocate, Saurabh Kirpal worked as a junior lawyer in the chambers of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi. He is a graduate of Delhi's St Stephens College as well as the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In the legal community, he is recognised for being a careful and industrious lawyer. Kirpal has long championed the LGBT community's cause, and as one of the case's petitioners, he was in the vanguard of the legal struggle to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality.
Who is Saurabh Kirpal?
Saurabh Kirpal is the son of Justice BN Kirpal, who served as India's 31st Chief Justice from May to November 2002.
Saurabh Kirpal, a graduate of New Delhi's St. Stephens College. He studied law at Oxford University for his undergraduate degree. He earned a master's degree from Cambridge University later on. He also worked for the United Nations in Geneva for a short time before returning to the Supreme Court to practise law for nearly two decades.
Constitutional Law, Civil Law, and Commercial Law are among his areas of expertise. He was a key player in the Supreme Court lawsuit that resulted in the legalisation of Section 377. He was the lead attorney in the case Navtej Singh Johor versus UOU, which resulted in the Supreme Court judgment reading down Section 377.
He is a founding partner of the Naz Foundation Trust, a Delhi-based NGO that has been in the vanguard of India's campaign against Section 377, and has published an anthology titled "Sex and the Supreme Court: How the Law is Upholding the Dignity of the Indian Citizen."
His boyfriend, Nicolas Germain Bachmann, is a Swiss Human Rights campaigner and a foreign national.
The Delhi high court commission, then led by acting chief justice Gita Mittal, originally recommended Kirpal for elevation in 2017. The idea was also endorsed by the governing council of the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court eventually opted to postpone the decision on whether or not to designate him as a judge.
The Supreme Court collegium, presided by Chief Justice NV Ramana, ruled on Kirpal's promotion last Thursday and referred the request to the law ministry. It is a historic first because Kirpal is openly homosexual. The Centre was hesitant to approve it when it arrived. The standing committee's suggestion this time should pave the way for his nomination as a judge of the Delhi high court because it is a reiteration.
His appointment might make it easier for LGBT people to access the country's constitutional courts, as well as reduce social prejudice against them. Kirpal is still young and might be selected to the Supreme Court, where his father, BN Kirpal, formerly served as Chief Justice.