File photo. | Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
New Delhi: The nomination of former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who served in the apex court till November 2019, to the Upper House of Parliament has drawn huge flak from various circles. Gogoi was nominated by President Ram Nath Kovind on March 16.
The notification issued by the Home Ministry said: “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of that article, President is pleased to nominate Shri Ranjan Gogoi to Council of States to fill the vacancy caused due to the retirement of one of the nominated members.”
Gogoi, whose term lasted for a little longer than 13 months, was responsible for several important judgements during his tenure. He had headed the five judge bench that had delivered the verdict on the controversial Ram Janmabhoomi land title dispute on November 9, 2019. The SC bench which oversaw the updation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam was also headed by him.
Other major verdicts which were declared by benches headed by him include the allowing of entry of women into the Sabarimala temple. The SC bench had referred the case to a nine-judge bench for consideration with regard to the larger question of religious freedom. Meanwhile, in the high-profile Rafale fighter jet deal case, the bench headed by Gogoi, gave a clean chit to the government. The judgement had drawn huge criticism for the “pro-government” decision. Questions were also raised on the credibility of the Supreme Court following the Gogoi-led bench’s stand on the controversy over the position of the Central Bureau of Investigation director.
The former CJI’s decisions with regards to the handling of the situation post the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre or even in the cases of habeas corpus petitions filed in the illegal detentions in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir had also faced flak.
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In 2018, Gogoi, along with three other judges, Justices J Chelameswar, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph, had addressed a press conference where they had said that many “less than desirable” things had taken place in the apex court and the affairs were “not in order”. The four judges had also said that “democracy will not survive in this country” unless this institution is preserved.
Again in 2019, while hearing petitions relating to challenges to the laws governing quasi-judicial tribunals, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Gogoi had observed, "There is a view point that post-retirement appointment is itself a scar on judicial independence of the judiciary. How do you handle that," adding, "This is a valid and strong point".
Following Gogoi’s nomination by the Centre, the Opposition has criticised the move heavily.
Responding to the former CJI’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha, former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, "I hope ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi would have the good sense to say 'NO' to the offer of Rajya Sabha seat to him. Otherwise, he will cause incalculable damage to the reputation of the judiciary."
“The picture says it all,” tweeted Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala that had two screenshots, one of Justice Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha and another news headline that said: “India’s Judiciary is Facing an Increasing Lack of Trust by Public”.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal also took a jibe at Gogoi, comparing him with HR Khanna in a tweet that read,