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Those criticising Ranjan Gogoi nomination forgot he became CJI after being a dissenting judge

We must not single out a particular nomination. From Fazl Ali to Ranganath Misra, judges have been given Rajya Sabha seats since Independence.

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The nomination of former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha by President Ram Nath Kovind was bound to be debated. But this is not the first or the last time that any chief justice or judge who has retired from the high courts or the Supreme Court has been appointed to a public office after retirement. These appointments began soon after India’s Independence and continue to this day.

Justice Gogoi has unfortunately been on the receiving end of much criticism. And more often than not, it appears this criticism is being directed towards the Bharatiya Janata Party rather than leading to a healthy discussion on the issue of judges accepting post-retirement jobs.

Also read: The reasons former CJI Ranjan Gogoi will give for accepting Rajya Sabha nomination

Supreme precedence

This debate began way back in 1952 when Justice Fazl Ali was appointed the governor of Odisha after he completed his tenure as a judge of the Supreme Court. Interestingly, Justice Fazl Ali had retired on 30 June, but was appointed as the governor of Odisha on 7 June 1952!

The two appointments that also stand out are those of Justice Baharul Islam and Justice Ranganath Misra.

Justice Baharul Islam was an advocate elected to the Rajya Sabha as a member of the Congress in 1962. He resigned as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1972 only to be appointed as a Judge of the Gauhati High Court. Justice Islam was subsequently made a judge of the Supreme Court. Not only was such an appointment unprecedented owing to his political inclinations, Justice Islam, during his tenure in the Supreme Court, also delivered a judgment absolving then Bihar chief minister from the Congress in the urban cooperative bank case. What followed was even more abrasive — Justice Islam resigned from the Supreme Court to contest elections as a candidate of the Congress. As Justice Islam was elected to the Rajya Sabha yet again, it almost seemed like life had come a full circle for him.

The second interesting case was that of retired Chief Justice Ranganath Misra. Chief Justice Ranganath Misra had given a clean chit to the Congress for its role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Not surprisingly, Justice Ranganath Misra was also elected as a member of the Congress to the Rajya Sabha.

Barring a few examples of impropriety, India has also seen some excellent contributions made by judges post their retirement in public offices. The first example is that of Justice M.C. Chagla who served as the first chief justice of the Bombay High Court. Justice Chagla, immediately after his retirement, served as the Indian ambassador to the United States, following which he served as the Indian high commissioner to the United Kingdom and on his return from his diplomatic assignments, became a member of the Union cabinet in 1963. However, Justice M.C. Chagla’s independent mind once again stood out when he took a stand against the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Also read: Ayodhya, Rafale and more – 5 big Ranjan Gogoi verdicts that ‘worked in favour of Modi govt’

Selective criticism

There is a long list of judges who have chosen to contest Lok Sabha elections post their retirement. Although, former Chief Justice Gogoi’s case is different.

On 16 March, Gogoi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President in exercise of the powers conferred under Article 80 of the Constitution. This provision enables the President to nominate 12 members to the Rajya Sabha who are eminent personalities and have excelled in their respective fields. It is only in light of such a provision that Justice Gogoi was been nominated by President Kovind.

This raises the question as to whether a personality such as Justice Gogoi, who enrolled in the bar in 1978, was appointed as a Judge of the Gauhati High Court in 2001 and who subsequently served the country as the Chief Justice, can be considered an eminent personality or not? After looking at Justice Gogoi’s credentials, this answer seems to be self-explanatory.

And yet, an argument of bias has been raised by a certain section of society. Some of the arguments being put forward are that Chief Justice Gogoi delivered judgments on matters of public importance such as the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi verdict. However on the same line of reasoning, one must consider that Chief Justice Gogoi was also a part of an unprecedented press conference addressed by four sitting judges of the Supreme Court in 2018. The same members of the judiciary who are now questioning his nomination had then observed that Justice Gogoi may have been superseded by another judge because he had questioned the Narendra Modi government and functioning of the judiciary. By that logic, Justice Gogoi ought not to have been elevated as the Chief Justice of India. Unfortunately, the section criticising the nomination of Justice Gogoi has shown that they forget crucial details to further their arguments. In this political crossfire, it is unfortunate that a judge of the Supreme Court is being criticised to suit political objectives.

Also read: ‘Rebel’ judge to Rajya Sabha: Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi hurting SC image or being harshly judged?

Post-retirement benefits

Coming to the vexed question of post-retirement benefits for members of the judiciary, it must be noted that such benefits come in different shapes and forms. They can include appointments to members of different tribunals, lucrative arbitration assignments or even serving as a director of a public sector undertaking, to name some. There is a fallacy in the argument that only when a judge of the Supreme Court is nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, is the independence of the judiciary compromised.

If the post-retirement benefits for members of the judiciary has to be debated, then a consensus needs to be arrived at involving the interests of members of the legal fraternity, political leaders and the view of the public at large. Together, we must come to such a consensus through healthy and productive debate. In the process, we must refrain from singling out a particular nomination

The author is a managing partner at Parinam law Associate and Vice President, Mumbai BJP and spokesperson, BJP. Views are personal. 

This article has been updated to reflect a correction. Justice Chagla had resigned from Indira Gandhi’s cabinet before he took a stand against the Emergency. The error is regretted.

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  1. I donot know British System … However American System stands out so much superior for Judicial Independence. Judges once confirmed are there for life , beyond any personal fear or greed …. yes they lean one way or the other , but that’s their conscience and a sense of legacy over generations.
    Few people alive today will be remembered 100 years from now , but US Supreme Court judges will be … they already have a place in History , and if we can fathom human psychology … no one, at least reaching that eminence , has ever wanted to be known as a lackey or buyable commodity for the future generations.

    President Truman even when financially very hard pressed , refused all offers of Company Board Membership etc , which wanted to exploit his previous offices of POTUS.

    India as the largest democracy must have the same system …. Supreme Court Judges for life …. mindful only of the Law and their place in History .

  2. The defence of former CJI’s appointment primarily rests on precedence (wrong), that he was dissenter against BJP ( so BJP is being magnanimous here )& finally RS seat is not such a lucrative deal anyway. Any man of below average intellect would find it an insult to respond to such arguments, so shameless are they. But I would anyway like to quote caeser, Caeser’s wife must be above suspicion.

  3. Multiple wrongs do not provide a precedent for making another one. The ruling party in India wants to take shelter under that. Late Arun Jaitley must be wishing that he was alive to prevent this.
    I hope there is a big mirror in Ranjan Gogoi’s home, where he can look at himself with the image of the blind-folded nyaya devata in the background. He mentioned judges decide on their conscience, perhaps he should have confined that statement to himself. Judges decide based on established laws, constitution and preceding judgements and in case delivering justice on humanitarian grounds use their conscience. This person is a shameful insult to the some of the true present day SC judges. Not condoning such prior appointments which should have been equally condemned,if not more. Read Siddharth Vardarajan’s and Mahua Moitra’s well written article in “” on this subject.

  4. The press conference of the four supreme court judges was wafer thin line between dissent and professional ethics. Such a issue at highest constitutional office is definately unbecoming. Assume these four judges are Sri M.C.Chagla ,Sri Hidaitullah ,Sai shabarwala and Doli Sobarjee , could anybody think these judges would had had such a press conference in the similar circumstances.I apologize if my writing comes with in the ambit of contempt : it is question of jurisprudence in larger sense : is it the way how a civil dispute of title deed was to be judged. How come in many cases unanimous judgements were delivered. Judgements delivered without authors signature .

    • No, it does not come as contempt. Don’t worry, what you have written is a a mix of partial and absolute lies and is nothing more than a joke.

      • Dont accept it but it has happened in a secular country. Verdict given to the demolisher or in favor of majority. Why was CBI inquiry not allowed in Rafale and look today Anil ambani banks like YES bank and even Chinese banks are sueing him. But these judges didnt even listen to france president. All these facts are jokes fr you that’s why this kind of majority has brought GDP to 4% from 9% and created joblessness in a country of 137 cr.

        • joblessness is a total different matter 96% graduates of India are unemployable so unemployment will stay there

  5. Yes, he dissented. Came the harassment case. He was shattered. He looked around for friends. Did not get any from the progressive lobby. They instead asked for fair hearing. Support came from Arun Jaitley. Then he gave assent.

  6. Those criticising Gogoi are playing ‘politics’, where facts and logic are buried under convenient and selective memories. Example. Mohindar Singh Gill, ex CEC, a Constitutional authority ,who enforced use of EVMs which RG and his gang now condemn, , was made RS member, and then also made a Minister. HYPOCRISY !

    • Don’t be an ultimate loser. If you really want to justify the present wrongs of the government in 5 years with the previous wrongs in the 70 years, we are losing as a citizen. Do you really want all the wrongs committed in 70 years to be bundle-packed and delivered in 10 years by the current government?

  7. Wasn’t BJP elected to do things differently? BJP sure talked about chaal (ways of functioning), chehera (face) and charitra (character). They made the moral high ground a big plank in the election. BJP said their politics is of suchita and shudhta (good character and purity in public life) . Really? BJP party with difference is using sins of Congress to justify their even worst actions.

    Well, retired CJI Ranjan Gogoi turned out to be just like any BJP politicians. Gogoi talked eloquently about high values and principles but did exactly opposite.

    Is author expecting people to swallow worst actions of BJP in last six years? Get Real my dear friend.

  8. Hitesh please do not respond to criticism of unsavoury characters that have thrived under earlier dispensation. Infact the harsh criticism and vilification of Justice GOGOI by these unsavoury characters has confirmed the importance of the appointment of Justice GOGOI to Rajyasabha

  9. This BJP VP has conveniently forgotten former CJI P Sathasivam who after absolving Amit Shah was appointed Gov of Kerala by Modi Govt Why was it not quid pro quo just like Gogoi accepting sealed envelopes to decide the cases.

  10. Yane ki, ‘Naya India’ toh bilkul purana India jaisa nikla!!

    Only maybe a little worse. You seem intent on proving that old saying, BJP = Congress + cow!

    You could have mentioned what those credentials were, because the ones that stand out are Gogoi’s verdicts in his final flurry, which were ALL in favour of the government. Then there’s also the case of the sealed cover, a subterfuge on the people of India, helping the government win cases without any argument as such.

    Sure, debate would be good, but we both know it will never happen under this government. Obviously you wouldn’t agree, but one hopes that Gogoi’s stated aim to get the government and courts closer will not happen, and that the judiciary remains independent and fearless!

    • Yes, it would have been a huge risk to the Government not to make him CJI despite seniority and the rock-solid convention on this. it would have been against the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court too.

  11. Yane ki, ye ‘Naya India’ bilkul purana India jaisa he!!

    If anything, a little worse!! You seem to be supporting that old saying, BJP = Congress + Cow!!

    It would have helped if you mentioned what those credentials are, because the most obvious ones are Gogoi’s final judgements that ALL favoured the BJP government. There’s also the case of sealed covers that Gogoi used as subterfuge against the people of India, so that the government can win a case without any argument as such.

    Sure a debate and some decisions would be good, but we both know that it’ll never happen under this government! Obviously you wouldn’t agree, but one hopes that Gogoi’s stated aim of bringing the judiciary and government closer to each other does not come to fruition, and the judiciary stays independant and fearless.

  12. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones on others. There is nothing the BJP is doing now, that the Congress didn’t do earlier. The media which was silent then, doesn’t have a moral right to outrage now. People are not fools.

    • Hello, this is not party A or party B. But about what is expected by citizens of India. Stop whataboutery.

  13. I could see the pain in the Vice President’s eyes when he presided over the swearing in of Mr R Gogoi, MP. Then read Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s searing column in the Indian Express. The rhinos in Kaziranga National Park would die to have such a thick skin.

    • ‘The rhinos in Kaziranga National Park would die to have such a thick skin.”

      But Indian secularists have thick skin comparable to that of Triceratops, otherwise Harsh mander, Ram Puniyani, mani Shankar Aiyar, Siddhartha Bhatia etc. would have gone back to Pakistan to fight for secularism there. but these shameless people stay in India and have thick enough skin to lecture Hindus, forgetting conveniently that it is Hindus who took pity on them and took them in and they way they are paying back will shame even Ghori.

    • This vice president, I forget his name at this instant, looks like a rhino to me! No sensitive human being can have a jaw and a voice like his

  14. Rebellion of Justice Ranjan gogoi was against CJI Deepak Misra, who was not exactly a protege of the present government. So, Gogoi’s rebellion was probably a plus point in the account of judges kept by BJP.

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