Justice Lokur on Gogoi's RS nomination: Has last bastion fallen?
In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government nominated former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, four months after he retired from the top post. The nomination, as expected, sparked plenty of reactions with Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur, who sat next to Gogoi in the historic 2018 press meet, wondering if the last bastion has fallen.
Two years ago, four SC judges spoke against then-CJI Misra
In January 2018, the lawns of the apex court witnessed history when four senior-most judges held a press conference condemning the way the then CJI, Dipak Misra, handed out cases. Apart from Gogoi and Lokur, Justices J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph had addressed the media, claiming that "democracy was in danger". They spoke about the basic tenets of the Constitution. Their move was applauded.
Gogoi "risked it all" by participating in the press meet
The four judges said the administration of SC wasn't in order and that remedial measures must be taken. Barring Gogoi, all three judges were set to retire soon. He was poised to be nominated by Misra as his successor. Soon, ballads were sung for his "courage". It was Gogoi who mentioned the controversial death of Justice BH Loya in 2014, at the press meet.
Despite the press meet, Misra nominated Gogoi
Nevertheless, Gogoi was nominated as CJI and took oath on October 3, 2018. He stayed in office for a little over one year but consistently remained in the news. Apart from presiding over crucial judgment like Ayodhya, Rafale, and the Assam NRC issue, Gogoi was the only CJI ever, who was accused of sexual harassment by a junior staffer of the top court.
Victim left probe, Gogoi remained the CJI
The victim, who went public with the details of the harassment last year, claimed Gogoi tried all tricks of the book to silence her. He was given a clean-chit by an in-house panel. The victim left the probe alleging bias on the part of judges, and Gogoi came out unscathed. After a controversial tenure, he is now headed for the Rajya Sabha.
For Justice Lokur, the nomination news wasn't surprising
The notification, issued last evening by the Ministry of Home Affairs, shocked many, but Lokur wasn't surprised. "There has been speculation for some time 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," he told IE.
Gogoi's brother was given an envious post too
That's not all. In January, Gogoi's brother, retired Air Marshall Anjan K. Gogoi, became a non-official member of the North Eastern Council. Downplaying the post-retirement gifts given to Gogoi, BJP followers reminded of former CJIs, Justice Ranganath Misra and Justice Hidayatullah. Mishra, who probed the 1984 riots was elevated in 1998, seven years after he retired. Similarly, Hidayatullah was made the Vice-President.
Here's the order pertaining to Anjan Gogoi
No coincidence that in January #RanjanGogoi’s brother Anjan Gogoi got nominated to the North East Council. Now waiting for the son, daughter son in law https://t.co/9iueMalWpq pic.twitter.com/8XN4RrzdNQ— Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) March 16, 2020
Gogoi will first take oath, then reveal his reason
Naturally, Congress slammed Gogoi for accepting the offer, with Kapil Sibal saying the former CJI compromised his integrity. In contrast, Sibal said, Justice HR Khanna stood up to the government. Facing a barrage of hate comments, Gogoi said he will go to Delhi tomorrow and take the oath. "Then I will speak in detail to the media why I accepted this," he told NDTV.