OPINION
More than what meets the eye in Gogoi’s RS nomination
Judiciary and Politics
- VIPIN PUBBY


JUDICIARY IS certainly passing through one of its darkest phases in the country’s history. It had shown such temerity and compliance only during the internal emergency declared by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. In some ways, perhaps, the conduct of some judges now is even worse than that.
 
The acceptance of a Rajya Sabha seat by former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, barely four months of his retirement, is a reflection of what’s going wrong with the judiciary. His conduct in the court and biases were very well known. He has left a disturbing and disappointing legacy. Most people had heaved a sigh of relief at his retirement and thought the worse was over. However by accepting nomination to Rajya Sabha he has lived up to his reputation. 
 
In the first place, the Narendra Modi government is responsible for extending the offer to Justice Gogoi and then of course it was for the former Chief Justice of India to reject the offer but he did not.  

One cannot not rule out a well thought of conspiracy of the government to weaken the last bastion of hope for the common people and perhaps the strongest of the three pillars of democracy. By its singular action, the government has been able to successfully send a message that the judges towing the government line can expect rewards.
After all what else could be the motive of the government in making the offer to Justice Gogoi. He is not known to be a brilliant legal brain nor was he known for his high moral character.
 
The mysterious charges of sexual harassment still remain a blot on him despite the farce of first casting doubts over her claim and giving a clean chit to Gogoi and then reinstating into service the same woman in government service - thereby accepting that she was wronged. If she had levelled false charges against the then Chief Justice of India, she should have been prosecuted for attempting to lower the dignity of the judiciary. Perhaps the mystery would be unravelled by some enterprising investigative journalist in the future.

This leads one to the suspicion that there is more than what meets the eye. Can it be ruled out that Justice Gogoi was coerced to accept the Rajya Sabha nomination ? Otherwise why would he accept an offer which was much lower in precedence than his post as the Chief Justice of India.
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It needs to be asked : Who stood to gain with the nomination of Justice Gogoi to Rajya Sabha. Certainly not the government which could have banked on much better legal luminaries.
 
Nor Justice Gogoi who has been shamed enough in media and public places and had to face the ignominy of slogans of "shame, shame” when he was being administered the oath in the Rajya Sabha. By accepting the nomination he also put a big question mark on his credibility and the credibility of his judgments in several sensitive cases where his pro-government leanings were obvious. 

So what was the idea of him being offered Rajya Sabha membership and his accepting the offer except that it was meant to send a signal to the judiciary as a whole. Its weakening is a strong threat to democracy.
 
Shortly after the sexual harassment charges became public, Gogoi who was the accused as well as the then CJI, in an unprecedented step convened the court to order an inquiry against himself! And here’s what he had to say in the open court : "Independence of judiciary is under very serious threat and there is a larger conspiracy to destabilise the judiciary”. He indicated that there was some bigger force behind the woman who had made the sexual harassment charges. So what happened to that conspiracy theory now?

CJI Gogoi, who was also known for taking calls on the basis of information in "sealed envelopes”, made some stirring remarks at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards function where he was invited as chief guest. He said the founder of the Express group Ramnath Goenka "could call spade a spade. Someone who could speak truth to power. Even if it came at a cost....And, I cannot say for others but as far as I am concerned, I only feel that we need to ask ourselves some questions : Where is the Goenka in us; his ideals; his values?”

Yes, Rajya Sabha Member Gogoi, where?

 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.) 

 

 

 


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