On March 18, 2020, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by Madhu Purnima Kishwar(professor at the Indian Council of Social Science Research) in the Supreme Court challenging the nomination of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
The 20-page petition has been filed in independent capacity and has not been drawn or filed through any advocate.
The strength of judiciary lies in the faith citizens of this country have in it, the petition states. It adds that any act which creates any adverse impression on the independence of judiciary like the present one, wherein former CJI has been nominated to Rajya Sabha, amounts to an assault on the independence of judiciary.
The PIL states that “… 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.”
It is further added that, “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”.
Further, the petitioner has submitted the controversial appointment has led certain sections fodder to cast aspersions on the independence of the judiciary.
In this regard, the petition states,“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.”
The petitioner has prayed in the PIL that the appointment of Gogoi as a Rajya Sabha member be stayed.
The petition also mentions about other judges who have been appointed / nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
"The first recently retired judge nominated to the Rajya Sabha was Justice Baharul Islam, who retired from the Supreme Court in January 1983 and was nominated to the Upper House by the Indira Gandhi government in June 1983. This appointment was also viewed as a slur on judicial independence. Later, ex Chief Justice Ranganath Mishra also secured a Rajya Sabha seat. But he did so by joining the Congress Party and winning his Rajya Sabha seat through election. But even that appointment aroused serious misgivings about judicial integrity among general public." reads the PIL.
On Monday (March 16, 2020) evening, the Central Government notified that the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, had nominated Gogoi as a member of the Rajya Sabha.Gogoi was the 46th Chief Justice of India and held the post for a little over 13 months.
Author: Aarya Mishra