The nomination of former chief justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi as a Rajya Sabha member by the BJP government has not gone down well.
While many believe that Gogoi’s nomination to the Upper House has set an ‘inappropriate precedent’, some others say it’s a ‘humiliation’ to the former CJI.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday nominated Ranjan Gogoi, who served as the 46th CJI from October 3, 2018, to November 17, 2019, to the Rajya Sabha.
Even as Gogoi has accepted the nomination, many social media users are of the view that the BJP government’s move is an ‘insult’ to the legal luminary as it is virtually demotion of his job when it is compared to his previous position (CJI).
As per government of India’s protocol list, the CJI is listed rank 6 while the member of parliament (MP) is listed rank 21.
So as per order of precedence, justice (retired) Gogoi’s position has been downgraded to Rank 21 from Rank 6.
Reacting to Gogoi’s nomination, his former colleague Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur said this redefines the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary.
“There has been speculation for sometime now about what honorific would Justice Gogoi get. So, in that sense the nomination is not surprising, but what is surprising is that it came so soon.
“This redefines the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary. Has the last bastion fallen?” Lokur told Indian Express.
In January 2018, Justices Gogoi, Lokur, J Chelameswar, and Kurian Joseph, in an unprecedented step, addressed a press conference and questioned the conduct of then CJI Dipak Misra.
Activist and retired IAS officer E.A.S. Sarma said that nomination of Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha has set an inappropriate precedent.
“What concerns me is that Justice Gogoi had relinquished charge as the CJI as recently as on November 17, 2019, exactly four months ago.
“In my view, offering the higher members of the judiciary nominated positions such as the Governor of a State or a Membership in the Rajya Sabha undoubtedly sets an unhealthy precedent, as it tends to weaken the institution of the judiciary,” Sharma said in a letter to President Kovind.
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.”
“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,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
What one must make of a govt that does this, after appointing another ex-Chief Justice as the governor of a state, he added.
Sharply reacting to Gogoi’s nomination, senior advocate Dushyant Dave said the semblance of independence of the judiciary is totally destroyed.
“This is totally disgusting, a clear reward in quid pro quo. The semblance of independence of the judiciary is totally destroyed,” he told The Wire.
Taking a swipe at the government, senior Congress leader compared former CJI Gogoi to former justice HR Khanna in a tweet.
Gogoi’s controversial tenure was marked by quite a few contentious judgements. Gogoi as CJI delivered many orders that turned out to be beneficial to the BJP government.
Gogoi as CJI allowed day-to-day hearing on the Ayodhya dispute and the bench headed by him handed over the disputed site to the community which had destroyed the Babri mosque.
He headed the bench which dismissed the Rafale petition and most other petitions that challenged government decisions.
Gogoi, who was accused of sexual misconduct, presided over a Bench that he himself set up to look into the allegations against himself.
The then CJI supported the lockdown in Kashmir, refused to hear petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 urgently.