Justice Gogoi: A profile

Justice Ranjan Gogoi. (PTI File Photo)

When President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday announced the appointment of Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next Chief Justice of India, the Northeast had its moment of pride.

Justice Gogoi is the first person from the Northeast to adorn the top post in the judiciary. His appointment was also special coming it was after a nearly eight-month speculation in the media and in circles within the judiciary on whether he will indeed make it to the top post.

The grapevine arose after his attack on incumbent Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on January 12, which was a rare moment as four seniormost judges of the Supreme Court openly criticised the functioning of the CJI, particularly the handling of CBI judge B H Loya murder case.

The tenure of the 64-year-old 46th Chief Justice of India will last till November 2019.

An alumnus of Delhi University's prestigious St Stephen's College, where he studied history, Justice Gogoi is the son of former Assam chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi, who was vehemently against his son joining politics.

Justice Gogoi completing schooling at Don Bosco in Dibrugarh before moving to Delhi for pre-university and graduate studies.

Justice Gogoi enrolled as an advocate in 1978 in the Gauhati High Court, where he practised on constitutional, taxation and company matters before he was appointed as a Permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001.

On September 10, 2010, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Justice Gogoi was subsequently appointed as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 12, 2011, before being appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.

Important judgements

Justice Gogoi has delivered several significant judgements, including Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC), setting up of special courts to exclusively try MPs and MLAs, Rajiv Gandhi assassination case for the remission of life sentences of the convicts and appointment of an anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal, among others.

A bench comprising Justices Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph on September 12 sought to know how many criminal cases were pending against MPs and MLAs in states where no special court have been set up to try them. In pursuance to his December 2017 order, 12 special courts were set up across the country to try criminal cases against politicians.

After the apex court had on November 1 last year said the problem of criminalisation of politics can be solved by setting up special courts under a central scheme in line with the fast-track courts, the Ministry of Law and Justice submitted in an affidavit before the apex court in December saying it is ready to set up 12 special courts for one year to deal with 1,571 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.

Rejecting death sentence

The 64-year-old judge was part of the Supreme Court bench that set aside the death sentence awarded by the trial court to the accused in a murder and rape case but upheld the life imprisonment sentence, a judgement which a six-judge bench upheld in 2017, rejecting the curative petition of the Kerala government even as some, including former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju, felt that the Supreme Court made some serious mistakes in adjudging the case.

In February 2016, Justice Gogoi ordered action by Bar Councils against an advocate, Mrinal Kanti Mandal, who asked him to recuse himself from hearing a case.

Justice Gogoi was a man of few words but his remarks drew wide attention. In his address at the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture in July, Justice Gogoi remarked, "Independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy's first line of defence".

He had also said that a "revolution, not reform" is needed to keep the institution of judiciary serviceable for the common man.

In June, Justice Gogoi said the justice delivery system needs a complete overhaul. He is known as a judge who meticulously reads files and briefs.

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Justice Gogoi: A profile

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