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Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who retires on November 17, is expected to deliver judgments in at least five important cases, including the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute and petitions seeking review of the Supreme Court’s historic verdict in the Sabarimala issue.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case

A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the Chief Justice Gogoi, had reserved its verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute after a marathon hearing of 40 days on October 16.

The judgment in the most important and politically sensitive case, which is expected next week, would decide whether the Allahabad High Court was right in dividing the disputed land in September 2010.

The issue pertains to 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya, which many Hindus believe was the birthplace of Lord Ram. Babri Masjid, a 16th Century mosque, said to have been built by Mughal Emperor Babur that stood at the spot was, was demolished brick by brick in December 1992 by right-wing activists. In the riots that followed, more than 3,000 people were killed across the country.

The Allahabad High Court in 2010 had ruled that the disputed land be split into three equal parts — the site of the Ram Lalla idol would go to the party representing Ram Lalla Virajman (the installed infant Ram deity), Nirmohi Akhara to get Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, and the Sunni Wakf Board to get the rest. All three parties then appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.

The other members of the bench are Chief Justice-designate SA Bobde, Justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer.

Chief Justice Gogoi today met with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and police chief Om Prakash Singh in his chamber at the Supreme Court and discussed the arrangements ahead of the landmark verdict.

Sabarimala verdict review

Another five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice will pronounce its judgment on the pleas seeking review of the Supreme Court’s September 2018 order that allowed women of reproductive age to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple.

As several women of menstrual age attempted to enter the temple, violent clashes and protests stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity, who is considered to be a celibate. Priests and even women devotees believe that women between 10 and 50 years of age should not be allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple.

As many as 65 petitions have sought review of the judgment.

Chief Justice’s office under Right to Information

On April 4, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Gogoi had reserved its verdict on three appeals filed in 2010 by the Secretary General of the Supreme Court and its Central Public Information officer against the Delhi High Court order that the CJI’s office falls under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

Rafale verdict review

In the Rafale case, the Supreme Court would decide on the pleas, including the one filed by former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, seeking review of its December 14 last year judgment which had declined to order probe into the corruption allegations in the Rafale deal to procure 36 fighter jets from French firm Dassault.

The review plea alleged that the government misled the court into delivering its December 14, 2018 judgment upholding the agreement.

Contempt of court case against Rahul Gandhi

The Chief Justice Gogoi-led bench will also decide on a plea seeking criminal contempt proceedings filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi  against former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the Supreme Court his much-used “chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress leader had made the remark following a Supreme Court verdict on April 10 allowing the maintainability of the Rafale review petitions.Later, he unconditionally apologised for the error.

Things to know about Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi

Justice Ranjan Gogoi was aworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India on October 3 last year and served for a little over 13 months. He is the first person from the Northeast to reach the top position of judiciary.

Chief Justice Gogoi hails from Dibrugarh in Assam and did his schooling from Don Bosco School Dibrugarh before he studied History at Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College.

The son of former Assam Chief Minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi, he was enrolled as an advocate in 1978. He practised in the Gauhati High Court on constitutional, taxation and company matters. He was appointed as a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001.

On September 9, 2010, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was appointed the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 12, 2011 and then a judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.

In his long journey, he has delivered various significant judgments, including Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), setting up of special courts to exclusively try MPs and MLAs, Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts for remission of their life sentences and appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal among others.

Justice Gogoi hit the headlines in January 2018 when he was among the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who called a controversial press conference in which they virtually revolted against the then CJI Dipak Misra over certain contentious issues.

India Legal Bureau

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