Former Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on Wednesday, spoke without mincing words on varied topics. Justice Gogoi delivered the keynote address on "Ensuring an Independent Judiciary under our Constitution: Confronting the Contemporary Challenges" in a webinar hosted by the Confederation for Alumni for National Law Universities.
He came down heavily on the 'activist judges' who were raising questions on the judiciary immediately after their retirement but kept quiet while in office.
Mincing no words, candid and clear as always, Justice Gogoi asserted, "Who are these activist judges working with? Who is giving platforms to them for saying all this? There are no questions asked. How and why do arbitration works flow to only some judges and not to others? Again, no questions asked."
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He began with speaking on the Collegium system for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary. "My experience with the Collegium system is that it is a sure way of keeping the Executive out of the appointment process," he said. "But this is not to say that the Executive does not have a role to play. The Executive has an equal role, but the judicial voice is the ultimate voice," Justice Gogoi added.
The former CJI took direct questions on his Rajya Sabha appointment. Earlier in an interview to Republic TV' s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, he had stated:
"These comments don't bother me for the simple reason that if it would have been Quid Pro Quo, it would have been something else, not a Rajya Sabha seat. There is a certain section of the people, everybody knows them, perhaps they were not very happy with the way I dealt with them as the chief justice or judge of the Supreme Court. The entire judiciary, today, has come in the stranglehold of a handful of people. If the judgment is contrary to what they want, then it becomes controversial. Is it that only if you deliver judgments against the government that you are eligible?"
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Lashing out at a motivated lobby Justice Gogoi exposed their double standards and hypocrisy. He said, "There are activists, web portals, certain electronic and print media who have laid down the “identification” for who is an “independent judge. According to them, the judge should be — eloquent on issues like the rich-poor divide, oppression of the marginalized, suppression of fundamental rights, and must advocate free speech even to the extent of touching frontiers of defamation."
Justice Gogoi is credited with pronouncing the landmark judgment in the Ayodhya dispute case. The verdict came after a marathon 40-day hearing. Despite delaying tactics by the lobby, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court laid the law of the land, unanimously and conclusively.
The Former Chief Justice answered questions on the mystery of, not having revealed the author of the 1000-plus page Ayodhya judgment. Justice Gogoi spoke in favour of uniformity and nation first.
Putting the controversy to rest, he said, "During the tenure of a particular Supreme Court judge, there were 32 cases which were decided by my bench in which the author was not disclosed. No questions were raised then. I, myself, have authored 13 judgments where my name is not shown. This is a jurisprudentially and logically acceptable practice."
He added the only reason this was raised was a delaying tactic to ensure the 135-year dispute could not be resolved before his retirement.
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From my personal experience I can tell you, he was one of the very few retiring Chief Justice who didn't want to be on television. On his last date in court, a letter was given to Supreme Court journalists, in which he wrote, the “bitter truth must remain in memory".
He left a legacy with his authoritative verdicts in Ayodhya, CJI office under RTI, Rafale, and Sabarimala. It is now time to see him in a new avatar, in a new service to the nation, as a Rajya Sabha Member.
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(Rhythm Anand Bhardwaj is the Legal Editor for Republic TV. She has a decade's experience in covering courts, and politics. She has covered ICJ hearings at Hague and extradition hearings at London. She has reported from Kabul. She was also a Supreme Court Lawyer. She believes hard work and faith leads to success. She can be reached on Twitter @Rhythms22)