Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, whose nomination to Rajya Sabha by the President triggered much controversy will take oath as a member of the Upper House on Thursday at 11 am.
The notification regarding his nomination was issued by the government of Monday night and since then fierce debate has been raging about the propriety of a CJI who retired just four months ago being given the nomination. There were even charges of quid pro quo.
Peers and legal luminaries were highly critical of Gogoi for accepting the nomination and none more scathing than the former apex court judge, Markandey Katju who called the ex-CJI, among other things, a “sexual pervert”.
“I have been a lawyer for 20 years and a judge for another 20. I have known many good judges and many bad judges. But I have never known any judge in the Indian judiciary as shameless and disgraceful as this sexual pervert Ranjan Gogoi. There was hardly any vice which was not in this man,” he tweeted.
Former apex court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, one of the four SC judges along with Gogoi to address the historic press conference on 12 January 2018 alleging “democracy is in danger as the independence of the judiciary is in peril” has come down heavily on the nomination of Gogoi as member of the Rajya Sabha saying that he has “compromised the noble principles” of the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
“According to me, the acceptance of nomination as a member of Rajya Sabha by a former CJI, has certainly shaken the confidence of the common man on the independence of the judiciary, which is also one of the basic structures of the Constitution of India,” the former judge said.
We have discharged our debt to the nation was the statement made by Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with the three of us on January 12, 2018.
“I am surprised as to how Justice Ranjan Gogoi who once exhibited such courage of conviction to uphold the independence of the judiciary, has compromised the noble principles on the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary,” Justice Joseph said.
Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice A P Shah and retired High Court judge R S Sodhi also reacted sharply to Gogoi’s nomination by the government.
Former apex court judge Madan B Lokur, denounced the move and said that he will express his views once Gogoi speaks to the media in detail about accepting the offer of a seat to the Upper House.
Justice Lokur was also a part of the press conference to lash out at the then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, said, “Wondering if the ‘last bastion’ had fallen.” The move will redefine the “independence, impartiality and integrity” of the judiciary.
Justice Gogoi had retired in November last year after presiding over the Supreme Court for around 13 months. He was among the four sitting top court judges who had held a first-of-its-kind press conference in January 2018 when Dipak Misra was the Chief Justice. They had alleged selective “assignment of cases to preferred judges” and “sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges” by Justice Dipak Misra.
As a judge, Ranjan Gogoi had headed the constitution bench that had delivered a landmark judgment in the temple-mosque dispute in Ayodhya. The court had handed the disputed 2.77-acre land for a temple and granted 5 acres for a mosque at an alternative location in Ayodhya.
He was also part of the bench that gave a clean chit to the government in the case regarding the acquisition of the Rafale jets, saying there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 fighter jets.
There were also allegations of sexual harassment against him by an employee of the court, but he was cleared by the three-member Supreme Court panel that was looking into the matter.
On Tuesday, he had said in his home town Guwahati that he will explain the reasons for accepting the nomination after he takes the oath.
Meanwhile, a plea was filed in the Supreme Court against his nomination on the ground that the ‘independence of judiciary’ is an essential part of the basic structure of the Constitution and also considered a pillar of democracy