Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan on Tuesday made his first comments on being nominated by President Ram Nath Kovind to the Rajya Sabha.
Gogoi is the first former Chief Justice of India to be nominated to the Upper House of the Parliament. His acceptance of the nomination has been decried as a blow to independence of Indian judiciary.
In Guwahati today, Gogoi told reporters, “I will go to Delhi probably tomorrow. Let me first take oath, then I will speak in detail to the media why I accepted this.”
Gogoi, 65, headed benches that pronounced several key judgements including in the Ayodhya land dispute case, the Rafale fighter jet deal and entry of women in Sabarimala temple.
He retired as CJI in November last year after a tenure of a little over 13 months.
During his tenure as judge and as CJI, Gogoi also faced allegations of sexual harassment.
In a reaction to Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha, Vrinda Grover, the lawyer who was counsel for the woman who had levelled the charge, wrote on Facebook, “I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it again, because there is fresh evidence to substantiate it, credible sexual harassment accusations by a woman do not destroy, or damage, or tarnish the reputation or prospects of powerful men.”
Gogoi was among the four senior-most judges who held an unprecedented presser in January 2018 questioning the then CJI’s way of functioning.
Later at a public function, Gogoi had remarked that “independent judges and noisy journalists are a democracy’s first line of defence”.
The Wire reports that the direct nomination by the government of a former chief justice is unprecedented.
Former Chief Justice Ranganath Misra was also a Rajya Sabha member but he was elected on a Congress party ticket when the party was not in power at the Centre.
Gogoi’s former colleague Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur told The Indian Express: “There has been speculation for sometime now about what honorific would Justice Gogoi get. So, in that sense the nomination is not surprising, but what is surprising is that it came so soon. This redefines the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary. Has the last bastion fallen?”
Others who denounced the nomination include former Union minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, now a strident critic of the Narendra Modi government.