Ranjan Gogoi, the 46th Chief Justice of India and the man who will go down in the history as one of great courage and resilience, retires today. One has to go no further than his last few days in office to look at his legacy. The flurry of key decisions made by Gogoi on the matters pertaining to politics, religion and even those applicable to his own office, hold the potential to reshape the future of this country.
Ranjan Gogoi marked his last day in office on November 15 as he sat in his room inside the Supreme Court complex with his successor Justice SA Bobde. Taking charge, Justice Bobde has his work cut out to fill the shoes of his predecessor.
Ranjan Gogoi demits office today, November 17. His last one-week in charge of the apex court has by no means, been a dull affair. The outgoing CJI passed as many as six key verdicts in his last one week in charge.
Ayodhya land dispute
None of Gogoi's verdicts were bigger than the one he passed on the Ayodhya land dispute, an issue that was lingering on the Indian legal system for over 70 years. After a marathon hearing, Gogoi, as the head of the 5-judge constitution bench pronounced a unanimous verdict on November 9. In his verdict, the CJI put several matters to rest, some of these matters had been the topic of the most heated debates in India over last half a century.
Nobody is above the law
Few days later, in another verdict, Gogoi re-emphasised on the fact that no one was above the law. He expanded the scope of the Right to Information (RTI) act and brought his own office under its ambit. By doing so Gogoi upheld the Delhi High Court's judgement declaring the CJI's office as a 'public authority'.
Ranjan Gogoi faced yet another politically sensitive case just before his retirement -- Rafale deal. Besides relating to the national security, Rafale deal was also in the thick of the debate during the Lok Sabha elections 2019 when the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal 'scam'. Congress' "Chowkidar Chor Hai" movement was also based on an alleged scam in the Rafale deal. The 3-judge bench headed by Gogoi dismissed Rahul Gandhi's petition in the matter. The court also censured the Congress leader for wrongfull remarks in the court pertaining to PM Modi.
The same day, Gogoi pronounced yet another landmark judgement. This time the matter pertained to the constitutional validity of religious practices that put a restriction on women. The 5-judge bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi referred the judgement in the matter of the Sabarimala temple to a larger 7-judge bench of the Supreme Court. The SC observed that a common policy needs to be formulated that could make religious faith coexist with equality in such matters.
Ranjan Gogoi will also be forever remembered for being the CJI that passed orders to make the SC judgements available in seven languages.
His judgements have solved some of the longest standing and complicated issues before the apex court. As per reports, after his retirement, Ranjan Gogoi will be given Z plus level security in Assam.
On his last day in the court, Gogoi refused any one-on-one interview with the media personnel but did thank them for their 'maturity in trying times'. He also passed a note to the journalists.
Bitter Truth Must Remain in the Memory
"That's not to say that judges do not speak. They do speak, but do so only out of functional necessity and no more. Bitter truths must remain in memory. As a public functionary entrusted with onerous constitutional duties to discharge, the idea of courting the press never endeared itself as a choice in the interest of my institution."
Chief Justice of India designate Sharad Arvind Bobde
The new CJI, Sharad Arvind Bobde will be sworn in on Monday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Born on April 24, 1956, in Maharashtra's Nagpur, Justice Bobde will be the 47th Chief Justice of India. His is a former Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice Bobde enrolled as an advocate on 13 September 1978, practiced at the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court with appearances before the principal seat at Bombay and before the Supreme Court of India and became Senior Advocate in 1998.
He joined the Bombay High Court in 2000 as an additional judge. In 2012, he became Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in April 2013.
Justice Bobde is also serving as the Chancellor of Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai and Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur.