New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, as a member of eminence.
A notification to this effect was issued Monday night.
Under Article 80 of the Constitution, the President can appoint 12 MPs “having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service” to the Rajya Sabha.
Justice Gogoi, the 46th CJI, retired on 17 November 2019, after being at the helm for important verdicts that impacted the socio-political milieu of the country — the Ayodhya land dispute verdict, the review of women’s entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple, and bringing the office of the CJI under the RTI Act.
Not the first CJI in Rajya Sabha
Justice Gogoi will not be the first CJI to sit in the Rajya Sabha. The 21st CJI, Rangnath Mishra, served as an MP in the Upper House from 1998 to 2004. However, Justice Mishra was a Congress MP, not a member of eminence appointed by the President.
Justice Mishra was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1983, and became the CJI in 1990. He joined the Congress about seven years after his retirement in 1991.
However, there has been one case of movement in the opposite direction too — from the Rajya Sabha to the judiciary.
Baharul Islam was elected to the Rajya Sabha on a Congress ticket in 1962 and 1968. However, he resigned from Parliament in 1972 to become a judge of the Gauhati High Court.
Islam retired in 1980, but once Indira Gandhi came back to pwoer, he was sent to the Supreme Court as a judge. He went on to absolve the chief minister of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra, in the urban cooperative bank scandal. He resigned thereafter, only to be made a Rajya Sabha MP again.
CJI Gogoi’s tenure
Born in November 1954, CJI Gogoi was appointed as a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court in February 2001, and was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in September 2010. He was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court in April 2012.
Six months into his tenure, CJI Gogoi faced arguably his greatest crisis in court. In April 2019, reports surfaced in the media that a Supreme Court staffer had accused the CJI of sexual harassment. The allegation came to light after the woman sent a letter along with affidavits to all 22 (at the time) apex court judges. The case was sent to an SC panel, where the charges were found to be baseless. However, the Congress had sought to impeach Gogoi.
One of the highlights of Gogoi’s tenure as an SC judge came in 2014, when a bench headed by him kick-started the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam. The process concluded in August 2019, during his tenure as CJI.
He retired on 17 November 2019.
(This report has been updated to add information about Baharul Islam)