Amid controversy and growing opposition, Lakshmana Chandra Victoria Gowri was on Tuesday sworn in as an additional judge of the Madras High Court. Gowri’s swearing in came after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed against her elevation by a section of legal fraternity.
Acting Chie Justice T. Raja administered her oath of office in the presence of judges and judicial officers. Gowri’s name was recommended by the six-member SC collegium on January 17.
In their petition, a group of lawyers claimed that Gowri's appointment as judge poses a grave threat to the fair administration of justice and citizens' right to the same under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Gowri, 49, hails from Thakalay near Kanyakumari where religious conversion had been rampant during her childhood. As a sympathiser of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), she had always been vocal against religious conversions in Tamil Nadu’s deep south. She has also been a regular contributor of articles to the Organiser, the official mouthpiece of the RSS.
Born on May 21, 1973, she enrolled as a lawyer in 1995. She practiced in civil, criminal, tax and labour matters as an advocate during her early days of career. Since 2022, Gowri has been holding the post of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of the central government in Madurai Bench of Madras High Court. Her affiliation to the RSS and her past speeches and articles published have come to haunt Gowri at a time when the collegium announced her name for judgeship.
Gowri, according to the petition filed against her, had written an article titled, “Aggressive Baptising Destroying Social Harmony” which was published on October 1, 2012 in the Organiser. She had also given YouTube interviews against Christian missionaries and religious conversions.
The additional judge pursued her law degree from the Madurai Law College. It was from there her association with the RSS began. She was an active member of the Seva Bharati, an arm of the RSS. She was also part of Mangayar Mangalam, an NGO. She actively attended the camps of Seva Bharati and Mangayar Mangalam and participated in the relief works organised by these two organisations when cyclone Okchi ravaged the coast of Kanyakumari.
Gowri also called herself as a chowkidar and added it before her name in her Twitter page in 2019, thus making herself known as a Modi bhakth. It was when Modi asked his followers to add ‘chowkidar’ as a prefix to their name. She was also the secretary of BJP’s Mahila Morcha and resigned from this post just days before she became the ASG.
Gowri in an article published in the Organiser had argued that “the demographic change in Kanyakumari and its electoral outcomes have influenced politicians cutting across party lines to surrender and submit before the church.” In a YouTube video, Gowri said Bhartanatyam should not be performed for Christian songs as she argued that there was a cultural genocide by Christians in India.
“There are many who have got judgeship despite their political leanings. But no one had been vocal like her. Her regressive views are unethical and not good for the society. It only expresses her deep rooted bigotry,” said a senior advocate at the Madras High Court on condition of anonymity.