Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday took oath as a member of Rajya Sabha, days after President Ram Nath Kovind nominated Gogoi to fill the vacancy originating due to retirement of one of the nominated members.
However, as the ex-CJI took oath, members of opposition parties walked out from the House shouting “Shame on Ranjan Gogoi”.
Following the swearing-in, as the business in the House began, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Rajya Sabha has a great tradition of many eminent persons coming from diverse fields, including former CJIs and added that Gogoi will surely contribute his best.
He also termed the walkout protest of the Opposition leaders during the oath-taking ceremony as “grossly unfair”.
The Home Ministry had on Monday issued a notification announcing that President Ram Nath Kovind is nominating Gogoi to fill the vacancy originating due to retirement of one of the nominated members.
“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,” the official government notification read.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by the sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of Article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of the 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 member”, the notification further read.
The vacancy was created due to the retirement of KTS Tulsi. Ranjan Gogoi (65) retired as CJI in November last year after a tenure of a little over 13 months.
Prior to this no Chief Justice has ever been nominated to the Upper House by the President.
Several opoosition leaders as well as former Supreme Court judge Kurian Joseph have criticised the move.
The Congress had earlier lashed out at the nomination of former chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as a Rajya Sabha candidate.
Questioning the government’s move, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked: “Justice Lokur rightly summarises it – Has the last bastion fallen?”
Justice Lokur, who has criticised the move, was part of the group of the then senior justices who called an unprecedented press conference in January 2018 to lash out at then chief justice Dipak Misra. However, ironically so, former Gogoi was part of that press conference.
In another tweet, Surjewala said: “Did PM Modi consider the advice of his former colleague & Law Minister and Finance Minister, Late Sh. Arun Jaitley before recommending ex-CJI, Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha?”
Reacting to the development, All India Majlis-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi had earlier tweeted, “Is it quid pro quo? How will people have faith in the independence of Judges?”
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.”
Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah said, “While I was tweeting about the Constitution, news about President nominating former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha is doing rounds. This act of President is surely in contradiction to the objective of independent & fair Judiciary aspired in the Constitution.”
Former Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph had on Tuesday criticised Ranjan Gogoi for accepting the nomination to the Rajya Sabha, saying his decision will negatively affect the confidence of the common man on the independence of the judiciary.
Following the criticisms, Gogoi on on Tuesday told media persons that he will speak on why he accepted the nomination after taking the oath.
“I will go to Delhi probably tomorrow. Let me first take oath, then I will speak in detail to the media why I accepted this offer,” the former CJI said in Assam’s Guwahati.
He said that “his presence in the Parliament would be an opportunity to underscore the viewpoint of the judiciary before the legislature and vice-versa”.
A resident of Guwahati’s Zoo Narengi Road, Gogoi said during his brief interaction with the media at his residence: “I (have) accepted it (the offer to be a member of the Upper House) since I am confident that the legislature and the judiciary must at some point of time work together for nation-building. My presence in the Parliament would be an opportunity to underline the views of the judiciary before the lawmakers and vice- versa.”
Justice Ranjan Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India in October 2018. He was appointed for a 13-month stint, and he took over from Justice Dipak Mishra.
Gogoi headed the five-judge bench which delivered a landmark judgement in 70-year-old Ayodhya title dispute in November 2019. The apex court had ordered the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site by setting up a trust while ordering five acres be given to Muslims in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.
A bench headed by Gogoi also ruled that Chief Justice Office falls under RTI but placed some riders. And, in another judgement, a bench headed by him in a majority judgement of 3:2 referred the Sabarimala temple judgement of 2018 to a larger bench. Justice Gogoi also pursued the Assam NRC and tasked the authorities concerned to publish the final list before August 31, 2019.
In another politically sensitive judgment, a three-judge bench, headed by Gogoi, and comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, on 14 November dismissed a review petition challenging the Rafale deal case. A bench headed by Gogoi also censured Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing the “Chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the top court.’
Gogoi also had to face an allegation of sexual harassment by a woman in April 2019, a complaint which was later dismissed as “baseless”.