Slamming the move to appoint Justice P Sathasivam as Kerala Governor, Congress on Tuesday wondered whether there was anything in the former CJI's "persona, functioning or decisions" that "pleased" Prime Minister Narendra Modi or BJP President Amit Shah.
Noting that Sathasivam was the first former Chief Justice set to be appointed as Governor, Congress wanted to know from the government whether it was moving to a system where "we expect judiciary to be committed to government for political patronage post retirement".
The question comes in the view of the fact that there were several former Chief Justices of India in the country, including two who retired in the last one and half years but the government selected the latest to retire, Party spokesperson Anand Sharma
He said that the move to appoint Sathasivam as Governor of Kerala raises many questions and makes the post of CJI smaller.
"Two people have gone beyond the post of CJI but that was to be Vice Presidents. And if you see the warrant of precedence, then Vice President comes after President and then the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India. But Governor is below. Why was he made?
"This raises a question if he has done some work, for which they are pleased. Prime Minister Modi is pleased, Amit Shah is pleased and that is why he is being honoured," Sharma told reporters during a briefing at the AICC headquarters.
He was replying to a question about the government's move to appoint the former CJI as a governor.
"Because an exception is being made, and the question is about why, is there anything in his persona, functioning or his decisions, which has really attracted very warmly, very positively, the acceptance of Prime Minister and BJP President. It is but natural that these questions would be asked".
Stressing that he is not casting any aspersions, Sharma said, "I am sure there is something which has gladdened the hearts of Prime Minister and BJP leadership".
The former Union Minister said BJP, particularly, Arun Jaitley, then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and now Leader of Rajya Sabha, is on record saying that retired judges of the Supreme Court, let alone Chief Justice, should not be given any office or position.
"So BJP should clarify whether they have made a departure from what was their stated position? If so, why? And why only an exception here," he questioned. Sharma said that Chief Justices of India and Judges of the High Court should not be open to political patronage.
"It again sends a wrong signal and raises doubt. The independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct and nothing should be done...it is not the question of office of Governor but it is the office of the former CJI and when they are so many our our respected former CJs, living their life with dignity, why the most recent retired judge is chosen? That raises a question," he said.
"Are we no moving to a system where we expect judiciary to be committed to the government for political patronage post retirement," he said.