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In news and in Supreme Court: Will the real Ranjan Gogoi please stand up?

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Justice Ranjan Gogoi led from the front a year ago, now his silence is deafening.

A year back, around this time, Justice Ranjan Gogoi was in the headlines along with three of his comrades, changing judicial history in India. They spoke of democracy and of a more transparent court. They were the knights in shining armour, the light at the end of the tunnel. Judge Gogoi led from the front.

Ranjan Gogoi is back in the headlines this week again, now as the Chief Justice of India, but not for being a revolutionary. Quite the opposite. His armour seems to be rusted and the tunnel seems dark again.

A collegium led by him covertly replaced its own recommendation to elevate two judges to the Supreme Court. A senior judge wrote to the CJI questioning the propriety of his decision to recommend the elevation of a junior Delhi HC judge, Justice Sanjeev Khanna.

Is it just the nature of the post that makes one lose all ability to be transparent, my Lord?

Or is there something else at play here, one can’t tell with certainty.

Also read: The Age of Nisar: How Pakistan’s celebrity chief justice chose activism over judiciary

Secondhand embarrassment

Sample this: it was a CJI-headed bench that ruled on the Rafale deal, dismissing all petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal.

We were spared the courtroom drama, but the verdict and the subsequent clarification by the Narendra Modi government cast doubt on the credibility of the Supreme Court. Over a grammatical error, no less.

Despite the blunder that it was, the situation could have been salvaged partially, only if the CJI had spoken—taking a cue from his own eloquence a year ago.

But this wasn’t the end of our secondhand embarrassment thanks to the judiciary.

Also read: Ranjan Gogoi led the revolution in judiciary last year, as CJI he is now killing it

Justice A.J. Sikri, whose deciding vote determined whether or not CBI director Alok Verma should remain chief, was offered a plum post-retirement job by the government just a month before the decision.

Once more, CJI Gogoi was in the news: he recused himself from the case because of conflict of interest, but nominated Justice Sikri who was the seniormost after him. The government had apprised CJI Gogoi of its decision to nominate Justice Sikri to the coveted post and had sought his consent. He still nominated Justice Sikri to the all-important panel. Ultimately, the latter was left red-faced. If criticism from the media wasn’t enough, two senior judges have also written to the CJI questioning the propriety of his decision to recommend Sanjeev Khanna to be elevated to the Supreme Court.

As CJI Gogoi’s deafening silence grows shrill, we must ask him: When will he cease to be the gift that keeps giving?

Also read: Now that he is Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi will have to walk the talk

The article has been updated to reflect changes.

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  1. If at all the high power committee recommended posting of Sri Alok Verma as director of fire services after reaching the age of superannuation , it is better for the committee to review their decision. The committee should have retired him on the same day S he is continuing beyond 60 because of two year tenure for CBI director

  2. The author and others similarly are very confused. They are crying a foul on the part of the Supreme Court Collegium while in fact it is not so.

    The SC judgeship became a matter of 100 odd families. Anyone once appointed to the HC starts thinking him as infallible. It is a general fact that a many of such aristocrats in HC do all kinds of sin including conspiracies against one another. They do everything than justice distribution. This step of the CJI has shown to them with a proof that they also need to perform. Without output it is not their birthright to land in the highest podium of the SC.

    It is an open secret that the superseded judge from Rajasthan ran a syndicate in Delhi through his younger brother. His remarkable judgment passed kept floating in public domain for long. The judge from J&K acted like a political leader sitting in office of Chief Justice. that J&K judge spoilt careers of several judges in Delhi who dared not to join the group politics of that judge.

    These superseded judges, each one of them has a story behind. YES, it is the first time history that even the HC judges were punished for their wrongs.

    we salute the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India to show these incompetent persons a suitable mirror.

  3. Supreme court judges should ask this samdari commentators and class 10 failed so-called generalist of India online portals before deciding cases please understand the SC judgements are well written decided and open quotes and everything has a reason but alas you have never attended the class when you are in school so you would have difficulty reading and comprehending judgements.

  4. This writer is suffering from Modi derangement syndrome. As a result, any judicial or other event that does not implicate Modi in some way earns the wrath of the people like this. It is a shame that such people have a forum on the Print to air their innuendos and conspiracy theories, even against the CJI.

  5. Most puzzling or shocking is the CJI’s silence on Rafale faux pas. Acquiescing in removal of Alok Verma is also puzzling. If it was such an open and shut case, then why did Justice Patanaik say that there was no evidence to remove Alok Verma, and later that justice Sikri’s decision was “very very hasty”? That was a polite way of saying that j. Patnaik did not at all agree with j. Sikri’s decision. The point is, was there ONE report of CVC, or TWO? One that was shown to j. Patanaik, and the other that was put on table when PM and other two met to discuss Alok Verma’s case? It’s all very murky, in my opinion.

    Coming back to the case of Mr Gogoi, a person does not change his mettle so utterly without any dark reason behind it. Much after the previous CJI Dipak Misra retired, someone made a startling suggestion that he was being “controlled” by someone in the government. I can bet that some similar sinister play is at work even in the case of CJI Ranjan Gogoi. Details may come out much later, or they may never come out, but some psychological pressure from some mysterious quarter is being brought upon Mr Gogoi. Only time will tell. But I’m 100% sure. I personally won’t be surprised if he resigns before his tenure is over.

  6. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    Ironical indeed !

    Things have undergone an unexpected change, unbelievable just within a span of one year !
    I was the one who had pinned high hopes and expectations when it became public that government has cleared tha name of Justice Ranjan Gogoi for the august office of the Chief Justice of India ! When he assumed his office in the last week of October last year, I had
    expressed optimism that his being at the helm of affairs of the highest court of justice would see remarkable, qualitative and objective innovation in the justice delivery system of the nation !

    The fact cannot be denied that he made a fine start auguring well for the polity but then soon there was a dramatic twist and turn in the functioning of the apex court under his stewardship ! It certainly paved way for disappointment and disgust which is now being
    felt in the various sections of the society of the nation !

    It is quite sad and unfortunate !

    What, why,who and how questions can only be answered by the Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi himself ?

    My Lord, please break your silence to regain trust and confidence which you had symbolised at the January 12,2018 press conference
    in the company of brother judges-Justices Chelameswar, Kurian Joseph and Madan B.Lokur !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  7. The logic (rather the lack of it) that CJI recused himself from the selection committee meeting becoz of conflict of interest is really shallow..Going by the same logic, then Mr.Modi being the person who sent cbi chief on leave also had conflict of interest..On that same count, congress who was against that decision also had conflict of interest.. CJI deputed somebody on his behalf doesn’t mean it is due to conflict of interest.. it is better for ThePrint to start applying some sense to its news…

  8. When government said that supreme court misinterpreted the sealed cover content , it is obvious supreme would have reviewed the whole case ,instead of that silence sends wrong signals.

  9. Democracy in our country was doomed the day ‘The Basic Doctrine Principle’ was formed, giving complete power to the Judiciary to remove any law that that is against the basic structure of the constitution. Even worse, the definition itself is based on how the Judges interpret it. Even if we were to elect a government to power who values democracy, there is nothing much it can do. Basically any law that the government brings to even strengthen the judiciary can be struck down as it could be interpreted as violation of the Basic Structure of Judicial Independence. Judiciary has become a single point of failure of our Democracy, where people have no control whatsoever.

  10. Ek acchi cheez ho rahi hai. No holy cows – except those that are filling up class rooms in Yogiji’s UP. People are asking questions, respectfully, firmly to all holders of power and institutions of public governance. That is exactly what those four gentleman who spoke from a sun dappled lawn in Lutyens’ Delhi one year ago had urged us to.

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