Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was nominated for Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, by President Ram Nath Kovind, on Monday, March 16. The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification citing his nomination, late on Monday.
"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, the President is pleased to nominate Shri Ranjan Gogoi to the Council of States to fill the vacancy caused due to the retirement of one of the nominated members," the notification read.
Justice Gogoi retired in November 2019, after presiding over the Supreme Court for around 13 months. The President's move comes unprecedented, as no Chief Justice has previously been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. While former Chief Justice Ranganath Misra was also a Rajya Sabha member, he was elected on a Congress party ticket.
As the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi had delivered several landmark judgements including the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case and the women's entry into Sabarimala temple. He also led a bench that monitored and ensured that National Register Of Citizens(NRC) exercise in Assam.
In his most crucial judgement in the Ayodhya case, 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. Gogoi had cancelled his foreign visit to ensure he has enough time to write the Ayodhya judgement.
Furthermore, a bench headed by the Justice had given a clean chit to the Modi government on the pleas seeking review of the December 14, 2018 verdict in the Rafale fighter jet deal. The bench also initiated criminal contempt proceedings against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark against PM Narendra Modi.
The former CJI's tenure as a judge and CJI was also marked with controversies as a Supreme Court staffer had accused the CJI of sexual harassment. However, he was later cleared for the same.
Appointment of judges to a post in the administration just after their retirement by the government raises suspicion on the unknown affiliations that the judges might have had while pronouncing crucial judgements.
The issue of the cooling-off period for retired judges had come up in the past as well. In 2014, Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam took governorship soon after he retired.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the matter in 2014 had sought the apex court's direction for specifying the cooling-off period for retired judges. The PIL had also demanded that governments should be restrained from appointing retired judges of the Supreme Court and high courts to any post without the consultation and concurrence of the Chief Justice of India or the Chief Justices of the high courts. But the Supreme Court had quashed the PIL.
In February 2019, the government had told the Rajya Sabha that since there are various laws for the appointment of a sitting/retired judges of the Supreme Court or High Court there is no need of a cooling-off period.
The SC judgement and the government's latest decision to send former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha raises questions on the independence of the judiciary.
Shortly after the announcement, several prominent personalities, including Opposition leaders severely criticised the move.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi questioned the implications of the move on the independence of the judiciary.
Is it "quid pro quo"?— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 16, 2020
How will people have faith in the Independence of Judges ? Many Questions pic.twitter.com/IQkAx4ofSf
Lawyer Karuna Nundy tweeted, "Destroying constitutional propriety for a measly Rajya Sabha seat."
It's just so sad. The brazenness of it. Destroying constitutional propriety for a measly Rajya Sabha seat. #RanjanGogoi— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) March 16, 2020
Former Karnataka CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said, "What is the message that President is trying to convey to the people of India & future CJIs?"
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said, "Shri Ranjan Gogoi had himself said last year that "There's a strong viewpoint that post-retirement appointments is a scar on the independence of Judiciary". What must one make of a govt that does this, after appointing another ex-Chief Justice as the governor of a state?"
Shri Ranjan Gogoi had himself said last year that "There's a strong viewpoint that post-retirement appointments is a scar on independence of Judiciary". What must one make of a govt that does this, after appointing another ex-Chief Justice as the governor of a state? #Chronology— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) March 16, 2020
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha said, "I hope former-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."
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.— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) March 16, 2020
Thank you for subscribing.
We have sent you a confirmation email.