CJI Gogoi retires: Here's a look at his eventful tenure
Justice Ranjan Gogoi retired on Sunday as the Chief Justice of India. Punctuated by a series of landmark judgments, Gogoi's 13-month tenure was as consequential, as it was controversial. The outgoing CJI received a farewell at the Supreme Court premises on Friday, his last working day. Before Justice SA Bobde takes over as CJI on Monday, let's have a look at Gogoi's eventful tenure.
First, let's revisit that unprecedented press conference of SC judges
Although the press conference of the four SC judges was held months before Justice Gogoi was sworn-in as the 46th CJI in October 2018, we would be remiss without its mention. In January last year, Justices Gogoi, Kurian Joseph, Jasti Chelameswar, and Madan Lokur addressed a press conference regarding problems plaguing the court. The controversial conference made Gogoi's assumption of office seem forward-looking.
'Independent judges, noisy journalists are democracy's first line of defense'
Justice Gogoi had then said that "independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy's first line of defense." He had also said that to remain serviceable for the common man, the judiciary needed "revolution, not reform."
Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment by SC staffer
Months after taking over as CJI, Justice Gogoi's name was among those swept up by the delayed #MeToo storm in India. In April, a female SC staffer accused Gogoi of sexual harassment. He, however, convened an urgent hearing to rubbish the allegations as an attempt to "deactivate" the CJI office. A three-member panel- headed by Justice SA Bobde- later gave Gogoi a clean chit.
Ending the Ayodhya dispute, that predates the SC itself
The most noteworthy judgment delivered by Justice Gogoi is perhaps the Ayodhya land dispute case. The long-pending dispute, which started even before the SC was established in 1950, ended with a five-judge Constitution bench (headed by Gogoi) ordering the disputed land to be handed over for the construction of a Ram temple. Allocation of alternate land was mandated for the construction of a mosque.
As CJI, Gogoi also presided over the Sabarimala case
Justice Gogoi also headed an SC bench that referred the Sabarimala case to a larger 7-judge bench. The court presided over a batch of petitions challenging the SC's 2018 verdict, which lifted the ban on menstruating women entering Kerala's Sabarimala Temple.
Gogoi also gave clean chits to Centre over Rafale
While hearing a writ petition, a bench headed by Justice Gogoi gave a clean chit to the Centre in the Rafale deal with French firm Dassault Aviation last year. The bench recently upheld the clean chit while hearing pleas challenging the verdict. A CJI Gogoi-headed bench on Wednesday also held that the CJI office falls under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
Gogoi struck down rules in amended-Finance Act 2017 on tribunals
On Wednesday, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Gogoi also struck down in entirety the rules formulated by the Centre on appointment and service conditions for members of various tribunals. It also referred the issue of examining the validity of the passage of the Finance Act 2017 as Money Bill to a larger bench. Justice Gogoi also oversaw the controversial NRC exercise in Assam.