The Supreme Court of India collegium has recommended Saurabh Kirpal as a judge of the Delhi High court.

On 11 November 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium in India, recommended Saurabh Kirpal to be appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court. If the action goes ahead, Kirpal will make history as the first openly gay judge in India.

However, before we can start celebrating, Kirpal must secure a series of recommendations from the collegium and formal approval from India’s federal government.

Kirpal was first recommended for the role as a judge in the Delhi High Court in 2017, however, it is suspected he was denied the position due to objections against his sexual orientation.

Alongside this, it has been reported Kirpal was also rejected due to his partner being European who also works for the Swiss Embassy, according to Business Insider.  The report suggests this likely caused a conflict of interest.

“On 11 November 2021, the Supreme Court Collegium in India, recommended Saurabh Kirpal be appointed as a judge of the Delhi High Court. If accepted, Saurabh Kirpal would be the first openly gay judge in India,” the organisation tweeted.

Kirpal has practiced in the Supreme Court for over two decades. If appointed, following the Supreme Court’s recommendation, the lawyer would become India’s first openly gay judge.

The collegium released a statement online confirming the news. “The Supreme Court Collegium in its meeting held on 11th November, 2021 has approved the proposal for elevation of Shri Saurabh Kirpal, Advocate, as Judge in the Delhi High Court,” the release said.

In 2020, Kirpal addressed the Supreme Court’s previous passing on his recommendation.

“Media reports seemed to indicate the issue might have been the nationality of my partner who is Swiss. Had I been a straight man with a foreign spouse, this would not have been an issue; former Supreme Court judges have had foreign spouses. But it became an issue only because I am not,” Kirpal had told Hindustan Times.

The Indian Supreme Court deferred its decision on Kirpal’s recommendation on three occasions, according to Hindustan Times, in January 2019, April 2019 and August 2020.

Actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Farhan Akhtar tweeted commending the news: “Historic day as the Supreme Court collegium has picked Saurabh Kirpal to be the Judge of Delhi High Court. It is a massive step forward in sensitising minds to focus on merit and not on sexual orientation. What is a first today should hopefully be norm tomorrow. Kudos.”

#India is changing for the better! Saurabh Kirpal becomes the first openly gay advocate to be nominated for the post of a judge at the #DelhiHighCourt, Rishi Suri posted. “In 2018, Saurabh Kirpal played a central role in the reading down of #Section377.”

On November 16, Pride in Law, a National LGBTIQ+ Law Association, celebrated the news on social media.