In an unprecedented move former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was nominated for the Rajya Sabha, on Monday, by President Ram Nath Kovind. Prior to this no Chief Justice has ever been nominated to the upper house by the President.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification announcing Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha. It 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, 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 46th CJI Gogoi was in office from 3 October, 2018-17 November, 2019 and had been part of the several important cases from Ayodhya Ram Mandir- Babri Masjid Case , as well as matters like Rafale fighter jet deal and entry of women in Sabarimala temple.
Gogoi’s father Kesab Chandra Gogoi was the Chief Minister of Assam for two months in 1982. He was the Member of the Legislative Assembly from Dibrugarh constituency.
Members from the judiciary usually not make the jump to legislative unit. One such example being former nineties when Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra joined Congress and became an MP. After his retirement in 1991 Justice Mishra remained a member of the RS from 1998 to 2004.
Later, former CJI P Sathasivam was appointed as the Governor of Kerala by BJP government at Centre.
Former Justice Baharul Islam too was a Rajya Sabha member before joining the judiciary.
The Opposition criticised the move of the BJP . All India Majlis-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted, “Is it quid pro quo?How will people have faith in the independence of Judges?”
Is it “quid pro quo”?
How will people have faith in the Independence of Judges ? Many Questions pic.twitter.com/IQkAx4ofSf
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) March 16, 2020
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.”
He further tweeted, “What is the message that President is trying to convey to the people of India & future CJIs? Institutions are not just compromised, they are just DEAD under BJP4India & Narendra Modi.”
What is the message that President is trying to convey to the people of India & future CJIs?
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 16, 2020
On 12 January 2018, Justice Gogoi was among the sitting Supreme Court judges Justices J Chelameswar , MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph who had held a press conference 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. They further said that the situation in the apex court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things had taken place.
But a day later Gogoi took a u-turn and had said that “there is no crisis” in the Supreme Court.
Another sensational decision of Ranjan Gogoi was the issuance of contempt notice to former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju on November 11, 2016.
Justice Katju was called by the Supreme Court over his Facebook post criticizing the way in which the court was tackling the sensational Saumya murder and rape case of Kerala.
The 3-judge bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla Pant, and UU Lalit set aside the life sentence awarded to the accused Govindachamy by the Kerala High Court. The decision was criticized by Justice Katju in his Facebook post. The bench took suo motu and called Justice Katju in the court. In the courtroom, Justice Gogoi underlined certain remarks on the print out of the Facebook post of Justice Katju and said that these remarks are made against the judges and not an opinion on the Soumya case judgment. Further, he issued a contempt notice to Justice Katju.
Justice Gogoi also had to face an allegation of sexual harassment by a woman in April 2019.
The complainant, who worked for Justice Ranjan Gogoi since October 2016 as a Junior Court Assistant alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Gogoi. She also alleged that she had been unlawfully dismissed from service.
A bench was constituted which passed an order dismissing the complaint as baseless. The court termed it as ‘Matter of Great Public Importance Touching Upon the Independence of Judiciary’.