New Delhi: Academic and activist Madhu Purnima Kishwar has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha. In her petition, she alleges that Gogoi’s appointment casts a shadow in the independence of the judiciary.
The former CJI’s nomination, she argues, counts as an assault on this independence. “…his (Gogoi’s) nomination as a Rajya Sabha member by the President of India gives it the colour of a political appointment and therefore casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility of the judgments delivered under his headship of the Supreme Court,” Bar and Bench quotes the PIL as saying.
Kishwar also questions why Gogoi decided to accept this nomination, given that he had been critical of post-retirement appointments for judges in the past. “Justice (Retd.) Ranjan Gogoi’s acceptance of RS nomination is all the more befuddling since he himself pronounced that there is a valid “strong viewpoint” that “post retirement appointment is itself a scar on judicial independence of the judiciary”,” the petition says.
The appointment, she continues, has become an excuse for detractors from outside and within the country (she calls the latter the ‘Break Up India Forces’, seemingly a translation of the elusive ‘tukde-tukde gang’) to criticise India. “It has given a handle to the external enemies of India as well as Break Up India Forces within the country to defame and cast aspersions on the highest judiciary of India. This is amply evident from the adverse coverage of this appointment in the national and international media.”
To stop this, Kishwar argues, Gogoi’s appointment must be stayed. In addition, she has said that restriction on post-retirement jobs for high court and Supreme Court judges should be put in place, as has been done in the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.
Gogoi will take oath in the Rajya Sabha at 11 am on Thursday. The former CJI was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by President Ram Nath Kovind on March 16.
Gogoi retired from the Supreme Court barely four months ago. This is the first time a government has used its power to nominate individuals for the Rajya Sabha to offer a post-retirement sinecure to a former Chief Justice of India.
The fact that a government has nominated a former CJI to the upper house will raise questions about the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary, especially since Gogoi headed benches in key cases that the same government which has nominated him had important political stakes in.