As the first judicial official from Assam to very soon hold the coveted position of the Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi is one of those few people who place ethos over power. Starting his foray into the higher judiciary echelons in 2001 from the Gauhati High Court, Justice Gogoi was appointed Chief Justice of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana on 12th February, 2011 and was elevated to the Supreme Court on 23rd April the following year.
Now all set to become the 46th CJI after his nomination by predecessor Dipak Misra was approved by the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Justice Gogoi is sure to usher in a new era of reforms into the system if his previous predilection for justice is anything to go by.
As we await Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s oath taking ceremony scheduled for October 3 this year, let’s rewind and take a look at some of his landmark judgements passed during his tenure at the Supreme Court.
DISSENT OVER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE
Justice Gogoi was a fresh entrant on the Supreme Court’s bench of judges when he stuck to his notion of Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee being beneficiary of holding office of profit at the time of filing his nomination in violation of constitutional laws.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi headed the bench that partially overruled a Supreme Court judgment that prohibited photographs of top politicians, other than the Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice, from featuring in government advertisements. On the basis of a petition filed by the Centre, the May 2015 order was amended the following year to include governors chief ministers and where relevant, even cabinet ministers.
MARKANDEY KATJU ‘PROVOCATION’ CASE
In a case of severe defiance and criticism of a Supreme Court judgement, former apex court judge Markandey Katju had been vocal about his displeasure at the judgment belted out by a bench headed by Gogoi in the Soumya rape and murder case that acquitted the accused of attempt to murder charges. However, Katju’s statements were found to be worthy of contempt of court and thus he was served a contempt notice by Justice Gogoi, which was later revoked when Katju agreed to render a written apology.
JUSTICE KARNAN CONTEMPT OF COURT
In what can perhaps be termed as the boldest move in his career, Justice Ranjan Gogoi as a member of the judicial bench sent High Court Judge C S Karnan to jail for contempt of court. In a landmark judgement that succeeded Justice Katju’s controversial incident, Karnan earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first ever serving High Court Judge to be sentenced to prison.
OVERRULING AMENDMENT IN POST RETIREMENT PROVISION
A certain amendment in a law pertaining to allowing retired government employees access to their official accommodation in Uttar Pradesh was struck down by a review petition at the behest of Justice Gogoi, who found the new ruling to be unconstitutional.
VERDICT IN LOKPAL ACT IMPLEMENTATION
In view of continuing attempts by the Centre to deny the proper implementation of the Lokpal Act that was passed in 2013, a 2017 order under Ranjan Gogoi nullified any alleged technical shortcomings in the Act and also expressed displeasure at the Government’s inability to introduce necessary reforms for the same.
NRC UPDATE MISSION
Justice Gogoi is also the man behind the updation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam that is aimed at tackling the grave issue of illegal infiltration. With the final NRC draft out (in accordance with the deadline set by Gogoi’s bench) and currently being subjected to examination of claims and anomalies, Justice Gogoi along with Justice Rohinton Nariman, are actively involved in dealing with objections relating to the sensitive document.
Even within the ambit of the lawyer community, Justice Gogoi’s influence in introducing reforms is considerable. With a points based system in place to determine the seniority of judges and also Gogoi’s endeavours in ensuring adequate childcare facilities at the Supreme Court, Indian judicial system is on course for a positive change.
PROTECTION OF THE JUDICIARY
In another unprecedented move aimed at preserving the sanctity of Indian democracy, Justice Gogoi was one among the four judges who had held a press conference earlier this year expressing concern over the visibly interfering administration of the judiciary.
Perhaps it is in keeping in view such unheralded, fearless judgement passed by a defiant Justice Gogoi in recent times that even before his official joining as the CJI, the decade long unsolved Aarushi Talwar murder mystery is sought to be brought under his purview. Whatever might be the case, we only hope that Justice Ranjan Gogoi will continue to stand for what he believes is right and ensures that even at last, justice is served.
Long live the judiciary!