If The Former Chief Justice of India Doesn’t Trust Judiciary, Who Will?

Ranjan Gogoi

Judiciary ramshackled, going to court is useless: Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi

That was the title of a report in newindianexpress.com, published 14th February 2021.

“Who goes to the court? You go to the court and regret,” Ranjan Gogoi said, adding that it is those who can afford to take chances, such as the big corporates, who approach the courts.

Expressing concern over the increasing pendency of cases that is clogging the Indian judicial system, former Chief Justice of India Gogoi termed the situation as “ramshackled” and added that even he would not go to the courts.

In an admission that the judicial system is cumbersome and often fails to deliver justice on time, he said people regret their decision to approach the court and it is the rich and corporate world denizens who are better suited to take their chances in court.

The controversial former judge Gogoi was speaking at the India Today Conclave East 2021 on Feb 11 Thursday in Kolkata. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in March 2020 after his retirement as the CJI in November 2019, it may be recalled.

He made several such observations in the event, as reported by various news agencies. Among these was on the ongoing farmers’ agitation, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a nationwide National Register for Citizens (NRC).

During the session lasting over thirty minutes, Gogoi spoke about the need to have a “roadmap” to overhaul the judicial system.

“You want a 5 trillion dollar economy but you have a ramshackled judiciary”, he commented. When the productivity of all institutions and organizations went down in 2020 due to the pandemic, the judiciary “succeeded” in adding its case arrears, he said with a tone of sarcasm.

According to him, 60 lakh cases were added at the subordinate level, 3 lakhs in High Court and nearly seven thousand in the Supreme Court in the pandemic affected year.

“The appointments [of judges] have become a matter of routine,” said former CJI Gogoi adding the political executive delayed appointments by sitting on them.

The Delhi High Court has 32 judges against the sanctioned strength of 62, Ranjan Gogoi said the Madhya Pradesh High Court had only 40 per cent of its sanctioned strength.

“The road map is…have the right man for the job. You don’t appoint judges as you appoint officers in the government. To judge is a full time commitment. It is a passion. There are no working hours. It is a 24/7 job. You wake up at 2 o clock in the morning, remember a point, and jot it down. That is how a judge works. How many people understand this?”, he said.

In a scathing criticism of the Judicial Academy in Bhopal, Gogoi said : “I have come all the way from Delhi to tell you what I feel about the system,” Gogoi said.

What is being taught there? Laws of the seas, laws of the oceans…nothing about judicial ethics, nothing about how to write judgments, nothing about how to conduct court proceedings.”

Speaking about the need to impart right training in the judicial academies, he said : “When you appoint a judge, train him up. He needs to be constantly reminded…

Sedition cases : “We are living in terrible times”

Asked about journalists and activists being booked in sedition cases, Ranjan Gogoi said, “Do you have any doubt that we are living in terrible times? He said the present time is “terrible” as everything turns into a chaotic row now.

“Every person who has power, a large voice, is a potential threat. A threat is coming from everywhere, can’t you perceive it?”

Ranjan Gogoi said the “efficacy” of the judicial system needs “serious reconsideration”.

“I headed the system for 14 months. It is doing fine and we have committed people working 20 hours a day but somehow, things are not working out,” Gogoi said.

“The judiciary doesn’t run the country, the government does. The role of the judiciary is limited,” Gogoi went on to add.

“If you go to the court, you would be washing dirty linen in the court. You will not get a verdict,” the former CJI said in reply to a question if he would take legal action against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra over her statement in the Lok Sabha that Gogoi discredited the judiciary by deciding the sexual harassment allegations against himself.

NRC is a big game between politicians…no political party wants it

In response to a question, he said:

“As far as the CAA is concerned, Parliament in its wisdom has passed it and the people of of the North East, of Assam, my state, are agitated about it. It has given rise to serious concerns in the minds of people because it is being seen as a threat to the existence of Assamese people.” And he added that this needs to be handled with a lot of care.

“There is a book in Assam called, ‘Game called NRC’…a game going on in Assam for 50 years’ The NRC is a big game between politicians. Neither the Congress nor the BJP wants NRC. The court can only do so much and it has done that. The NRC is a vision document. It is a document for the future,” Gogoi said.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a ‘game’ played by political parties… no political party wants it..all political parties make use of the NRC issue for their benefit.

The Supreme Court under Ranjan Gogoi played an instrumental role in getting the NRC for Assam published. However, once published, all political parties found it inconvenient and demanded changes.

Fielding questions about the Assam NRC process, Gogoi said that he has no regrets in investing time and energy in the case, although the parties which were demanding it are not enthusiastic about the final NRC list published in August 2019. Justice Gogoi had led the Supreme Court bench which set the time frame to complete the Assam NRC process.

“Court can only do so much and has done it. (I have) No regrets. It(NRC) is a document for future. Analyze it. What is wrong with NRC? Implement it”, he said. He criticized that the political parties were playing a “big game” with NRC without showing the actual will to implement it.

Responding to a question about whether CAA has stirred an existential crisis, Ranjan Gogoi said, “The CAA has been enacted as law… no matter how much you feel that it is not necessary is not going to help things, the only way you can get rid of the law is by repeal or a court declaration that it is invalid.

“But there are sufficient cushions to take care of for instance clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for protection to indigenous people.

What has the government done about it? Nothing. Now that I have said that the government has done nothing and I have criticised the government, are you convinced that I’m not a pro-BJP judge,” Ranjan Gogoi said.

He expressed his reservations about the feasibility of a nationwide NRC. “What are you talking about a nationwide NRC when it has not been implemented in Assam where it is most needed? These are slogans for the moment.”

‘Have right to protest as long as it is peaceful’

On the ongoing farmers’ agitation, Ranjan Gogoi said, “The political executive will have to work it out. It is pending before the court and the validity of the laws is in question. A solution, either legal or political is a must.”

“The solution is not coming. I don’t have a solution. If it’s a legal solution, it has to come from the Supreme Court and if it’s a political solution, has to come from the political executive,” Gogoi said.

“The Supreme Court has said that it is a law and order situation but the people have a right to protest as long as the dissent is peaceful,” Ranjan Gogoi said.

‘Arbitration award passed by CJI questioned before district judge’

“Commercial cases must have a forum for such disputes, or no one will invest,” Ranjan Gogoi said referring to the Commercial Courts Act which covers any commercial dispute above Rs 3 lakh.

“An arbitration award passed by the CJI is questioned before a district judge. What does the poor fellow do? He sits on it,” Gogoi said.

You go to court only if you are a corporate and can take chances, he said.

Asked about a fellow Supreme Court judge who was criticised for praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly, Gogoi said, “The learned judge shouldn’t have made that statement. If he had admiration for the PM, he should’ve kept it to himself.”

‘No discussion about judiciary complete without reference to case’

Referring to the case involving allegations of sexual misconduct against him, Gogoi said, “No discussion about the judiciary is complete without reference to that case.”

During his interaction with India Today’s Kaushik Deka in Kolkata, Gogoi said the case involving him was mentioned in Parliament to send out a message to warn the judges. Ranjan Gogoi said, “They want you to conduct yourself in a certain way and if you do not, they will attack you.”

He also said that it was sitting Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, then the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court had constituted the committee to hear the case against him as per the prescribed in-house procedure.

“At least have the facts correct before making allegations. This is the problem with our country we jump around without facts,” Gogoi said.

Responding to a question about whether he will consider legal recourse against MP Mahua Moitra, Gogoi said, “It is not a question of faith [in the judiciary]. It is fait accompli.”

“If you go to court, you don’t get verdict all you do is wash your dirty linen,” Ranjan Gogoi said.

Ram temple verdict and Rajya Sabha seat a quid pro quo?

He refuted the allegations of a quid pro quo with the BJP for verdicts in cases with political implications including the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit decided by the Supreme Court in 2019.

“Give this much credit to a man who has written these judgments that if he wants to bargain, he will make a good bargain. Give me this much credit. Rajya Sabha is not a good bargain. If there had been a bargain, there would have been something bigger, not the Rajya Sabha seat”, he claimed, adding that this was a “worthless topic”.

“I thought I would do some constructive work in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.

Gogoi spoke at length about the controversy surrounding the Ram Janmabhoomi, Rafale deal and other verdicts delivered by the Supreme Court during his tenure as chief justice.

On being nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Narendra Modi government within a year of his retirement as the CJI, he said, “I am least concerned about which party appointed me. I don’t have a constituency, the entire country is my constituency.” I am not a Member of Parliament nominated by the BJP.

“Till today, a year has elapsed since I took oath as a Rajya Sabha member but I haven’t taken a penny from the Rajya Sabha. I gave it in writing that I don’t want any money.”

When the anchor asked how will he tackle the growing perception that his nomination to the upper house was a return favour, Gogoi made an appeal to his own conscience.

“I don’t have to tackle anything. I have to tackle only my conscience. My conscience is clear. No amount of what other perceive bothers me”.

Talking about the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict, he said, “The people projected the Ram Janmabhoomi judgement as Modi government’s greatest success. They failed to make the finer distinction between a judicial order and a political decision.”

“A court verdict will benefit somebody and will work to somebody’s prejudice. The moment you decide the case, the judge has another enemy in his pocket,” Gogoi said.

‘Rafale case was simple’

About the Rafale verdict delivered by a bench of the Supreme Court headed by him, he said:

“The Rafale case was very simple. The question was, in an aircraft procurement contract, do we apply the same parameters as a building contract. I said no. The parameters would be far more stringent in aircraft acquisition contract. ”

Gogoi explained why the Rafale case was heard in compliance with the “sealed cover procedure”. He said, “I did not give lawyers the details because the sealed cover had the cost of armaments and I could not make that public.”

“It is easy to talk but difficult when you sit in CJI’s chair,” Ranjan Gogoi said in response to allegations levelled against him in connection with the Rafale case.

He added, “If my conscience is clear, no amount of criticism matters.”

Responding to a question about a Supreme Court judge who praised PM Modi publicly, Ranjan Gogoi said, “The learned judge shouldn’t have made that statement. If he had admiration for the PM, he should’ve kept it to himself. A statement that PM is a great man doesn’t show any quid pro quo.”

Judges should not succumb to media attacks

He commented that media outlets and web portals attempted to “cow down” judges and that judges succumbing to such attacks was a “real threat”.

“What is this attack, does a judge or a former judge get cowed down by attacks? Will he ever be able to function if he is afraid of being attacked while in office or after office?”, he added.

He also expressed concern over the present time when people with “power and loud voice” try to target and malign others, including judges. The former CJI said that there are unfortunately some judges who are succumbing after being attacked.

He said a robust judiciary is a must for attracting foreign investment in the country to sort out any commercial dispute in a time-bound manner.

“System has not worked. If you want a thriving economy, you must have a forum to decide commercial disputes. Nobody is going to invest unless you have you have a robust system. Where is the mechanism? Commercial Courts Act has brought within its purview every conceivable commercial dispute. But who is applying the law? The same judge who does other normal work. I do not think beginning has been made and I call judges to engage to make a roadmap,” he said.

Gogoi’s remarks on judiciary shocking, worrisome: Pawar

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Feb 14 Sunday termed the reported remarks by former Chief Justice of India (CJI) and Rajya Sabha member Ranjan Gogoi about the judiciary as “shocking and “worrisome”. (PTI)

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Pune, Pawar said, “Last week, I read somewhere that Prime Minister in one of the meetings of Supreme Court judges, stated that the standard of the Indian judiciary is very high. We all felt good.

“But the statement made by former Chief Justice of India, who has been now sent to Parliament, is a very shocking kind of a statement. I do not know if he tried to explain the truth of judiciary.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said in Nashik that Gogoi”s statement should be taken seriously, and added that the former CJI should have explained with “examples from his tenure.” Talking to mediapersons in Nashik, Sanjay Raut said Gogoi was making the remarks after being a part of the judiciary for years.

“Gogoi”s remarks should be taken seriously. There is a precedent that the judiciary shouldn”t be criticised… Had Gogoi explained with examples during his tenure as to why he thinks so, the country would have been enlightened.”

See for more https://www.indiatoday.in/conclave-east-2021/story/-living-in-terrible-times-justice-ranjan-gogoi-on-sedition-charges-in-cases-of-dissent-1768298-2021-02-11






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