Who is Saurabh Kirpal, the gay lawyer recommended by SC as Delhi HC judge?
The Supreme Court Collegium has approved the proposal for the elevation of senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High Court. If appointed, Kirpal would be the first openly gay judge in the country.
This is the second time Saurabh Kirpal has been officially recommended by the SC Collegium for elevation as judge to the Delhi High Court. He was recommended for elevation in 2017 by the Delhi High Court Collegium.
However, Kirpal’s elevation then went into limbo with the Supreme Court Collegium under multiple CJIs after 2017, deferring his name. It was alleged that objections were raised against his recommendation citing his alleged sexual orientation.
Who is Saurabh Kirpal?
Saurabh Kirpal is the son of Justice BN Kirpal, who was the 31st Chief Justice of India from May 2002 to November 2002. He completed B.Sc (Hons) in Physics from St Stephens, Delhi University and then went on to study law at the University of Oxford.
Saurabh Kirpal also holds a Masters in Law from the University of Cambridge.
Before returning to India, Saurabh Kirpal briefly worked with the United Nations in Geneva. He has been practicing law in India for over two decades. His areas of specialisation include civil, commercial and constitutional law.
Saurabh Kirpal is openly homosexual and speaks for LGBTQ rights. He has also authored a book called ‘Sex and the Supreme Court’.
His partner Nicolas Germain Bachmann is a foreign national and a Swiss Human Rights activist.
Earlier recommendations and controversies
In April 2017, Saurabh Kirpal gave his consent for judgeship. Justice Gita Mittal, the then acting chief justice of the Delhi High Court, had proposed his name for elevation.
On October 13, 2017, Saurabh Kirpal’s name was recommended for elevation by the Supreme Court's Collegium for the first time. However, his elevation then went into limbo with the Collegium under multiple CJIs after 2017.
In September 2018, the SC Collegium deferred his name from its recommendations for the first time. No reason was given for the decision.
In January 2019, the Collegium under CJI Ranjan Gogoi deferred Saurabh Kirpal’s name once again on the basis of scrutiny of the material on record and the observations made by the Department of Justice in Kirpal’s file. Three months later, the SC Collegium once again deferred recommending Saurabh Kirpal’s name for similar reasons.
It was alleged that the report of the Intelligence Bureau on Saurabh Kirpal had raised some concerns regarding the nationality of his partner on the basis of which his elevation was deferred.