Brushing aside opposition, the Government today went ahead and appointed former Chief Justice of India Palaniswamy Sathasivam as the new Governor of Kerala.
65-year-old Sathasivam is the first Chief Justice of India to be appointed to the post which is lower in warrant of precedence to the CJI. He is the first non-political person appointed for a gubernatorial post by the new NDA government.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said that the President has accepted the resignation of Sheila Dikshit, who submitted her papers last week, as Governor of Kerala and has appointed Sathasivam with effect from the date he assumes charge.
Sathasivam retired as Chief Justice in April this year.
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 (Narendra) Modi is pleased, Amit Shah is pleased and that is why he is being honoured?," Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma had said yesterday.
The Congress had slammed the move to appoint him at the post wondering if there is "anything in his persona, functioning or his decisions, which has really attracted very warmly, very positively, the acceptance of Prime Minister and BJP President."
Sathasivam was on the Supreme Court bench that scrapped a second FIR against Shah in a fake encounter case, saying it was linked to the bigger Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing case and did not need to be separate.
The Bar association in Supreme Court and Kerala had also petitioned the President against appointment of Sathasivam saying there was impropriety in a person who had served as CJI being appointed as Governor by the President.
Unfazed by the criticism, Sathasivam said that after his retirement "I can utilise my service to the people of the state in a better way compared to other politicians" and added that he would share details after the swearing-in.
"I want to utilise my experience for the people of the particular state (Kerala)," he said after his appointment.
The NDA Government has appointed ten governors so far which include former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh (Rajasthan), Ram Naik (Uttar Pradesh), Keshari Nath Tripathi (West Bengal), Om Prakash Kohli (Gujarat), Balram Ji Das Tandan (Chhattisgarh), Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya (Nagaland) and Kaptan Singh Solanki (Haryana).
The others appointed were Gujarat Speaker Vajubhai Vala (Karnataka), C Vidyasagar Rao (Maharashtra) and Mridula Sinha (Goa).
So far nine governors, appointed by previous UPA government, have tendered their resignation. The latest was Manipur Governor Vinod Kumar Duggal who submitted the resignation late last week.
Besides Duggal and Dikshit, other Governors who resigned after being nudged by the NDA government were -- M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland), B L Joshi (UP), B V Wanchoo (Goa) and Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh).
V Purushothaman, the Governor of Mizoram, had resigned after he was transferred to Nagaland in July this year while Masharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan tendered his resignation on August 24 after he was shifted to Mizoram.
After the new Government assumed office, two Governors including 87-year-old Kamla Beniwal, who had a running battle with Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister when she was governor of the western state, were sacked.
Lt Governor of Puducherry Virendra Kataria, a former Congress leader, was also sacked.
Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi has challenged in the Supreme Court Centre's purported moves to ease him out of office, bringing the controversy over removal of UPA-appointed Governors under judicial lens.
Adish C Aggarwala, Chairman of the All India Bar Council in a statement opposed the appointment of Sathasivam as Governor.
Veteran lawyer Ram jethmalani opposed the move to appoint Sathasivam as the Governor of Kerala saying that he was opposed to any CJI getting a job from the Government.
"It is unjustified and it should not be done," Jethmalani said.
He said this will set a wrong precedent as every judge will be looking to the government to provide something. "And what is worse, judges will loose public confidence...So in principle, I am opposed to any such thing happening."
K T Tulsi, another prominent lawyer, supported the move saying that judges were ideally suited for such a job.
"This is a good move because judges are ideally suitable and qualified for acting as Governors. They have intimate knowledge of Constitution and law and finest nuances of the Constitution," he said.