Ayodhya, putting CJI under RTI highlight Gogoi's career

Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi during his farewell function at the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who would formally demit office on Sunday, has to his credit several achievements, including the decision in protracted Ayodhya dispute, reforms in SC registry to ensure the prompt listing of cases, and publications of the Supreme Court judgements in various vernacular languages to reach out to the common people.

In his last seven days, Justice Gogoi, along with four other judges, passed the historic judgements dealing with the most contentious issues of Ram Janmabhoomi and Babri Masjid and the Sabarimala matter. He also declared the office of CJI as a public authority, open to the RTI Act, setting out new frontiers for implementation of the transparency law in the judiciary.

The bench, presided over by him, also sent to a larger bench for consideration a question if the Finance Act, 2017 could have been passed as a money bill.

Justice Gogoi also headed a three-judge bench which dismissed the politically-sensitive review petitions against the Rafale judgement of December 14, 2018, that had rejected a plea for CBI probe into the deal to buy fighter jets from France. The same bench castigated Rahul Gandhi for his remark of 'Chowkidar (PM Narendra Modi) is a thief' and asked him to be “more careful” in attributing his political statement to the court. 

Apart from making several landmark decisions, Justice Gogoi played a key role in making the government to raise the maximum strength of judges in the Supreme Court from 31 to 34. To his credit, he was successful in promptly filling up all the posts of judges in the SC as the top court worked to full strength at the time of him leaving the office.

Justice Gogoi also presided over a bench to oversee the publication of National Register for Citizens in Assam in terms with the judgement, declining to be drawn into criticism for the massive exercise undertaken to list out illegal immigrants in the bordering state.

On the administrative side, he directed the registry for listing urgent cases within five days. He ordered the SC registrars to be present in the courtroom during the mentioning to ensure lawyers' complaints related to the listing of cases were immediately resolved.

The CJI had his fair share of controversies. He faced the most tumultuous of time in April, this year when a former SC staff made sexual harassment charges against him. Though the allegations were rejected by a three-judge committee, the process and the manner in which the whole issue was dealt with attracted much criticism. Justice Gogoi was also one of the four judges who raised a banner of revolt against then CJI Dipak Misra on January 12, 2018, on allocations of the cases to select benches.

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