Ranjan Gogoi

Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi’s memoir includes a photograph where Justice Gogoi with the other judges of the Ayodhya Bench at a dinner in a Delhi hotel, captioned ‘Celebrating the Landmark Ayodhya Verdict’.

Former Chief Justice Gogoi in his book writes: “In the evening (of delivering the verdict), I took the judges for dinner to Taj Mansingh Hotel. We ate Chinese food and shared a bottle of wine, the best available there. I picked the tab, being the eldest.”

In an interview with NDTV, when he was asked if it was appropriate to be celebrating the verdict in a contentious issue as that of the Ayodhya dispute, Justice Gogoi denied that the dinner was a “celebration”.

The NDTV report quoted Justice Gogoi as saying: “Not celebrate. Not celebrate. When you go for dinner with friends, at times, don’t you feel like tasting outside food?”

He said: “Each of these judges have worked and worked and worked for four months (on the Ayodhya verdict). My judges and all of us worked so hard, we thought we will take a break. We have committed something that is not permissible?”

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Justice Gogoi was interviewed in the light of the release of former CJI Gogoi’s autobiography, titled ‘Justice for the Judge’.

The memoir also tackles the controversy over his decision to preside over a hearing convened in the light of sexual harassment charges levelled against him by a woman staff member of the court.

Justice Gogoi said: “In my book, there is a sentence, that in retrospect, perhaps my participation on the bench was not correct.”

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He said the decision to preside over the hearing was driven by concern over his reputation.

He said: “CJIs (Chief Justices of India) don’t descend from the heaven. 40 years of reputation built up over hard work is sought to be destroyed, you are required to take a call. Some part of it goes wrong.”

Regarding the controversy over his entry to the Rajya Sabha, former CJI Gogoi in his autobiography writes that he “did not think twice before accepting,” and that he did not imagine that allegations would be raised that the seat “was a quid pro quo for judgments delivered in the Rafale and Ram Janmabhoomi cases.”

Justice Gogoi said he accepted the offer because it would give him an opportunity to highlight the problems of the judiciary and Assam, which is his home state.

According to the report, the Rajya Sabha records show that he has less than 10% attendance in the Upper House.

When asked about his poor attendance in Rajya Sabha, he said: “Personally I did not feel very comfortable going there. And the pandemic is on and even today I don’t feel very comfortable going to the Rajya Sabha… Though social distancing norms have been enforced, they are not being observed.”

Justice Gogoi on Thursday said the January 12, 2018 press conference by 4 senior-most Supreme Court Judges against then CJI Dipak Misra had the potential to stand out as a precedent for judges going to media to ventilate their grievances but exuded confidence that such an occasion would never arise in the future.

Regarding the press conference, which was criticised as “a bad precedent”, Justice Gogoi said, “The press conference was the culmination of a series of nonacceptance of requests made by brother judges to the CJI. At that point of time all the four most senior judges were of the unanimous view that there was no other option but to go to the press.”

“There are people who believe that was the right step, others who believe it was ill-advised. I think this is a chapter which needs to be closed. I can only hope such a situation does not arise (in future),” he added.

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