New CJI gets going; aims to cut down on delays

New CJI gets going; aims to cut down on delays

Justice Ranjan Gogoi takes his oath of office after he was appointed as the 46th Chief Justice of India at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. PTI

As Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took charge on Wednesday, a fresh roster for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court was announced, putting all PILs before his court and that of senior-most judge Justice Madan B Lokur.

In court, he also declared that no oral mentioning for urgent hearing of cases would be allowed unless it involved death, demolition of houses and eviction.

Presiding over a three judge-bench, the CJI said, “We are formalising new parameters; no oral mentioning will be allowed.”

Lawyers usually make a beeline in the Chief Justice's court to mention their urgent matters for early listing. It takes away 15 to 20 minutes of the court before regular listed cases can be taken up. Justice Gogoi's predecessor Dipak Misra had disallowed senior advocates to make the mentioning. He had permitted only the 'advocates on record' to mention the matters.

At a felicitation function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, he said the time is short and we have to get the results in the shortest possible time. “We are trying to reduce the time between filing and listing. We are trying a system where the cases do not get dropped from the list. The mentioning is going to die itself,” he said.

On being described as a strict person, the 64-year-old said, “I am what I am and I cannot change.”

Earlier in the day, Justice Gogoi was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at a function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here. He took charge as the 46th CJI and presided over the bench from 12 noon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Cabinet colleagues including Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda and other Opposition leaders, outgoing CJI Misra, and Supreme Court judges attended the ceremony.

Some of the major challenges before the new CJI are the Ayodhya land dispute case, the appointment of Lokpal and taking forward the implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam. The immediate tasks before him include the setting up of a bench to deal with the Ayodhya case and the Maharashtra government's petition against relief to activist Gautam Navlakha.

Justice Gogoi will also have to take along his brother judges in decision-making, particularly on the allocation of “sensitive” cases. The issue had rankled senior judges during the tenure of outgoing CJI Misra which resulted in an unprecedented press conference on January 12. Justice Gogoi was one of the four judges who expressed anguish at the functioning of Misra, the then CJI.

Justice Gogoi, who hails from Assam, is the first CJI from the northeastern states. His term lasts till November 18, 2019.