Retired SC Judge S. Abdul Nazeer Made Andhra Pradesh Governor, Had Delivered Ayodhya Temple Judgment

He is the third judge of the 5-judge Ayodhya bench to receive a post-retirement sinecure from the Modi government.

New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday (February 12) appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice S. Abdul Nazeer as the governor of Andhra Pradesh. He retired from the apex court only a month ago, on January 4.

Justice Nazeer heard several cases that were of importance to the current Union government, including the Ayodhya title suit case decided in November 2019 and the demonetisation case decided on January 2 this year. In the instant  triple talaq case, he dissented, ruling that the practice was not invalid.

In December 2021, Justice Nazeer spoke at the 16th National Council Meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad (a Sangh parivar affiliate) on ‘Decolonisation of the Indian Legal System’. He stated then that the Indian legal system is colonial, which “is not suitable for the Indian population. The need of the hour is the Indianisation of the legal system.”

He said, according to reports on the event, that the Indian legal system continued to neglect the great knowledge of the “legal traditions as per Manu, Kautilya, Katyayana, Brihaspati, Narad, Yagyavalkya and other legal giants of ancient India” resulting in “adherence to [the] colonial legal system” that proved to be “detrimental to the goals of our Constitution and against our national interest”.

He is the third judge of the 5-judge Ayodhya bench to be named to a post-retirement sinecure by the Modi government. In a controversial verdict, the bench decided that the land where the Babri Masjid stood for five centuries before being illegally demolished by Hindutva activists in December 1992 should be handed over to organisations linked to the demolition so they could build a Ram temple there.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who headed the bench, was made a member of the Rajya Sabha soon after retirement and Justice Ashok Bhushan, who retired in July 2021 was made head of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal later that year.

The incumbent governor of Andhra Pradesh, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, has been transferred as governor of Chhattisgarh.

The other four governors appointed on Sunday – Lakshman Prasad Acharya to Sikkim, C.P. Radhakrishnan to Jharkhand, Shiv Pratap Shukla to Himachal Pradesh and Gulab Chand Kataria to Assam – are all BJP leaders.

Justice Nazeer will be the fourth retired judge of the Supreme Court to be made governor in the history of independent India.

Justice S. Fazl Ali was made governor of Orissa from 1952 to ’54 and then Assam from 1956 to ’59, while Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister. Justice Fathima Beevi was made governor of Tamil Nadu by the H.D. Deve Gowda government in 1997, five years after her retirement from the Supreme Court.

This is the second time the Modi government has made a retired apex court judge a governor so soon after retirement. In 2014, it appointed former Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam governor of Kerala.

Note: An earlier version of this article erroneously state that Justice Nazeer is the third retired judge to be made governor in independent India; he is in fact the fourth.