Thiruvananthpuram: A day after the central government appointed P Sathasivam as the Governor of Kerala, overlooking all objections from the Opposition parties and the judiciary, the former Chief Justice of India on Thursday denied any wrongdoing and said his appointment was done on merit.
Speaking to a TV news channel, Sathasivam said, “I retired four months ago and there is no controversy in my appointment as Kerala Governor."
"On the date of my retirement, I had said I would not accept any arbitration work and I went to my native place in Kerala. Now if the government wants to utilise my experience which is more than 19 years of experience, and I want to do good service for the people of Kerala, what is wrong in that? What is wrong if I want to help the people of Kerala after retirement?" he said.
Further justifying his appointment as Kerala Governor, the former CJI said, “I am a common man now and want to use my experience for the benefit of people of Kerala."
"With my experience, I am in a better position to serve the state," he added.
Sathasivam also categorically rejected that it was a political appointment and said legal fraternity should be happy with my appointment.
Reacting to allegations of wrongdoing by his family members, he rejected them as "incorrect and unverified" reports. Meanwhile, the ruling BJP has also defended Sathasivam's appointment as Kerala Governor.
"Ex-CJI has impeccable integrity, knowledge of constitution and he's not corrupt, no reason for controversy," BJP leader Sambit Patra said.
Sathasivam had retired as the CJI in April this year and he is the first former CJI to be appointed as a Governor.
117 members of the Kerala High Court Advocates Association had on Wednesday moved a resolution requesting the President to discard the Home Ministry's recommendation to appoint Sathasivam as the Governor. They said that such a move will affect the independence of the judiciary.
Another former CJI VN Khare said the move will set a bad precedent and will lead to more political intervention in the coming years.
"There is no precedent to this. No Chief Justice of India has ever been offered or accepted this post. I would have not accepted it myself. I was never offered and would not have taken it myself either," he said, adding, "If you create a precedent, it may be followed. Other judges may say if 'A' has accepted it then there is no harm in it."
Congress had slammed the move to appoint Sathasivam as Kerala Governor and wondered whether the government was "pleased" with his judgement in the Amit Shah case.
"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?," Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma told reporters.
Sathasivam was on the Supreme Court bench that scrapped a second FIR against Shah in the fake case, saying it was linked to the bigger Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing case and did not need to be separate.
Commenting on the contentious issue, retired apex court judge KT Thomas had said that retired Supreme Court and high court judges should take a two-year "quarantine period" from any posts barring that of a judicial inquiry commission.
Sathasivam, 65, who hails from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, was the 40th chief justice of India, holding office from July 2013 to April 2014.