Ranjan Gogoi takes oath; Oppn MPs stage walkout

Ranjan Gogoi takes oath as Rajya Sabha member; protesting Opposition MPs stage walkout

As soon as Ranjan Gogoi's name was called to take oath, Opposition MPs shouted slogans against his appointment as a nominated member

Ranjan Gogoi file photo (PTI Photo)

Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took oath as Rajya Sabha MP on Thursday amid unprecedented sloganeering and walk out by Opposition MPs who were objecting to his appointment.

This is the first time in Parliament's 69-year-old history that oath taking was marred by protest and walkout. After the oath taking, Gogoi told reporters, "they will welcome me very soon, there are no critics."

As soon as Gogoi's name was called to take oath, Congress MP and CPI(M) MPs were on their feet raising slogans against the former Chief Justice, who was appointed a nominated MP by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday night.

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These MPs were soon joined by DMK, Muslim League and MDMK among others while Samajwadi Party MPs remained seated. Trinamool Congress MPs were not present in the House when the oath ceremony took place.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu then said it was "very unfair" and it was not the way to behave. Gogoi then took oath in English in the name of God amid slogan shouting and walk out of the House.

After Gogoi took oath, Naidu said, "You know the Constitutional provision, you know the precedent, you know the power of the President (to nominate a member to Rajya Sabha). We should not do anything in the House. Whatever views you have, you can say it outside,"he said.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the opposition protest as "grossly unfair" and said, "this House has a great tradition of having many eminent persons coming from diverse fields, including former Chief Justices nominated by those who have shouted today."

"Hon'ble member Gogoi, who has taken oath today, will surely contribute his best as a nominated member. And it was grossly unfair to do like this," he added.

Outside the House, Congress Deputy Leader Anand Sharma told reporters that the appointment and Gogoi's acceptance has raised "bonafide questions about quid pro quo" and that he has "no hesitation" in saying he was a "controversial Chief Justice of India". Sharma said, "he has severely undermined the independence of judiciary."

Sharma also said Gogoi's nomination and that of some of his predecessors' entry into the Rajya Sabha "six to seven years" after their retirement should not be compared as the former has taken the new position within four months.

The son of late Congress leader and former Assam Chief Minister Keshav Chandra Gogoi, 65-year-old Gogoi, who retired on November 17 last year, is the second former CJI to enter Rajya Sabha. Earlier, former CJI Ranganath Mishra had contested and won Rajya Sabha elections on a Congress ticket in 1998 while another former CJI was elected Vice President unopposed in 1979. In the recent past, former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam was appointed Kerala Governor by Narendra Modi government.

Justice Gogoi has delivered several important judgements, including the one on Ayodhya issue, a week before his retirement. He also delivered the judgements on Rafale deal, the rolling out of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and entry of women in Sabarimala temple.

He was also part of the four judges, including Justices J Chelameswar, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph, who addressed an unprecedented press conference raising questions about the way cases were allotted by then Chief Justice Deepak Mishra against the backdrop of the case related to Justice B H Loya's death.

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