New Delhi: Hours after taking oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha Thursday, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi spoke to several media outlets and addressed some of the allegations and concerns that were raised after he was nominated to the Upper House.
In an interview to Times of India, Gogoi spoke about the criticism he faced over the “sealed cover” jurisprudence, in cases such as the Rafale deal.
“Should we have made public sensitive information relating to weaponry attached to Rafale jets? Pakistan would have laughed its heart out and said it outwitted India through the Supreme Court. And was the Rafale deal scrutiny an ordinary road construction petition to demand similar level of transparency regarding pricing?” he was quoted as saying.
He also scorned at the allegations that his nomination to Rajya Sabha, four months after his retirement, was part of a “quid pro quo” arrangement with the Union government.
“Those who are criticising acceptance of nomination as quid pro quo must grant a better sense of proportion to a former CJI. If a former CJI wants quid pro quo, then he could seek bigger, lucrative posts with bigger emoluments and facilities and not a nomination to RS, where the pecuniary benefits are the same as that of a retired judge,” he said.
Gogoi also said he wants to give his salary and allowances from the Rajya Sabha towards refurbishing libraries of law colleges in small towns if the “rules permit it”.
‘Hope SC initiates contempt proceedings’
Gogoi, who spoke to Republic TV Friday, said he hoped the Supreme Court will initiate contempt proceedings against those questioning the independence of the judiciary in light of his nomination.
“What is independence of the judiciary? My acceptance of the nomination to Rajya Sabha is a quid pro quo and therefore it is a reward for the judgments delivered. Did I deliver any judgments sitting alone?” he asked.
He then said that statements such as these are “highly contemptuous” as they “cast an aspersion on the judges who were a part of the bench”.
“Are you suggesting that the other members of the bench, whose tenure is going to be complete before the tenure of the present government, have also guaranteed their post-retirement package?” he further asked.
Gogoi “hopes and wishes” that the Supreme Court takes suo motu notice of such claims and initiates contempt proceedings “at least against the prominent ones who’re making the statements.”
“I don’t think it’ll happen, though it should happen,” he added.
‘You don’t say no…’
Talking about why he accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination, Gogoi told Republic TV, “My acceptance of the nomination stems from a firm belief that when the President requests for your services, you don’t say no.
“I was looking forward to retirement … but when the call came, I could not have shirked it by saying that I want to take my holidays, I want to live life the way I want,” he added.
Gogoi made similar statements in his interview to India Today, saying, “I accepted the nomination for the same reason I accepted the judgeship at the age of 45, when I had a lucrative practice. There is a practice in the bar that when a judgeship is offered, you don’t refuse. When the President makes an offer, you don’t refuse.”
As for the demand for a cooling off period before judges can take up post-retirement jobs, Gogoi countered, “How do you then man the tribunals, which are headed by retired Supreme Court judges?”