New Delhi, March 16 : In a span of six years, two former Chief Justices have been accorded plum posts after retirement. Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who retired in November 2019, is the latest after he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Former Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, who held the office for nine months from 2013 to 2014, after retirement was appointed the Governor of Kerala from September 2014 to September 2019.
The Home Ministry on Monday issued a notification announcing that President Ram Nath Kovind is nominating Gogoi to fill the vacancy originating due to retirement of one of the nominated members.
Gogoi headed the five-judge bench which delivered a landmark judgement in 70-year-old Ayodhya title dispute in November 2019. The apex court had ordered the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site by setting up a trust, while ordering five acres be given to Muslims in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.
The bench held that the “possessory claim of the Hindus to the composite whole of the disputed property stands on a better footing than the evidence from the Muslims,” while emphasising on tolerance and mutual co-existence, which played a crucial role to nourish the secular commitment of the country and its people.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India in October 2018. He was appointed for a 13-month stint, and he took over from Justice Dipak Mishra.
The bench also comprising CJI-designate Justice S.A. Bobde, and Justices S.A. Nazeer, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan also said: “The evidence indicates that despite the existence of a mosque at the site, Hindu worship at the place believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram was not restricted.”
A bench headed by Gogoi also ruled that Chief Justice Office falls under RTI but placed some riders. And, in another judgement, a bench headed by him in a majority judgement of 3:2 referred the Sabarimala temple judgement of 2018 to a larger bench. Justice Gogoi also pursued the Assam NRC, and tasked the authorities concerned to publish the final list before August 31, 2019.
In another politically sensitive judgment, a three-judge bench, headed by Gogoi, and comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, on 14 November dismissed a review petition challenging the Rafale deal case. A bench headed by Gogoi also censured Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongfully attributing the “Chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the top court.
On his last working day Gogoi had said the judicial system is facing new challenges, which emerge from within and outside of court complexes and judicial processes.
The Chief Justice, who demitted office on November 17, did not directly refer to the sexual harassment allegations against him by a court staffer, but instead said: “As an institution, we have tried to deliver much more than what is reasonably possible, yet, today each of us is required to deal with new challenges, which unfortunately arise from within and outside of our court complexes and our judicial processes.”