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Justice Gogoi, the ‘plot’ and the things you might not know

As things stand, it appears the plotters have actually harmed the interest of those they were seeking to protect.

I will try to attempt what you know and what you don’t know.

Perhaps you know that an allegation/affidavit of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was filed by a former woman staffer. That Justice Gogoi was part of the three-member bench (Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna being the other) which heard the matter on Saturday (April 20, 2019). That Justice Gogoi saw it as an attack against the institution of the judiciary and an attempt to influence other important hearings which are coming up this week. Justice Gogoi asked the media to show restraint in its coverage on the matter. That four online websites, but for one all Leftist– The Wire, Scroll, Caravan and Leaflet– in almost synchronized manner took up the woman’s allegation on Friday.

You wouldn’t know, if you are a reader of Indian Express, the woman-staffer wrote her allegation to 22 Supreme Court judges on April 19, 2019 – yes, the very day when these publications took up the matter!!! Scroll says that it sent its questionnaire to Justice Ranjan Gogoi at 10 a.m in the morning. So just a few hours into a day, not only the written allegation had reached all 22 SC judges but also accessed by Leftist web news portals which also had time not only to prepare its questionnaire but also send it to the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. All this in between catching up on sleep and attending nature’s call etc. What was the tearing hurry?

You wouldn’t know, and even I can only connect dots, as to why this matter was rushed through on April 19, 2019. What was the urgency to drag the CJI through the mud at such breakneck speed? Clearly, the motive was to take advantage of a weekend break in the court’s functioning. CJI can’t respond on April 20 and 21 (Saturday and Sunday) and by then it could be shown that the impeccability of CJI office is compromised.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi clearly saw through this game and hurriedly called for a three-member bench to hear the case—at a few hours’ notice. He didn’t make a judgment–nor has the bench passed a verdict–and only made a few observations: the most important being that “There has to be a bigger force behind this…They (the people behind this conspiracy want to deactivate the office of the CJI.” Justice Gogoi didn’t stop at this: He said he hinted a political plot since he was hearing sensitive cases next week.

You wouldn’t know, as a reader of Indian Express and The Hindu, what are the sensitive cases CJI Ranjan Gogoi is hearing this week. They have made no mention of these cases. Luckily, OpIndia has listed them all: (a) The contempt plea against Rahul Gandhi (for lying in public that even SC has said Chowkidar ne chori karwai (PM Modi has caused the theft in Rafale); (a) a decision on the release of Narendra Modi biopic; (c) a decision on Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu in view of the enormous bribe paid to voters.

It takes little intelligence to guess which one is the most important case listed for hearing this week. It’s a contempt case against Rahul Gandhi. Already on bail in National Herald case, the Congress president has to file his reply to Supreme Court by Monday. Viewed in this light, the rush of events on April 19 (Friday) all begins to make sense. It was punctured through by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who called for a rare Saturday bench hearing to bell the cats and call out the nefarious political plots.

You wouldn’t know, if you are a reader of Indian Express and The Hindu, what it meant by “Two offices—one of PM, CJI” in their story. If you look at the headline of the print edition of Indian Express, it appears an insinuation against the PM office for the plot against the CJI. It’s easy to see that the remarks of the CJI have been clumsily edited. So you look at other newspapers to get the full quote of CJI: “There are two offices absolutely independent—one of the Prime Minister and one of CJI.”

Indian Express also does a quick job on Attorney General K.K. Venugopal. It says the AG wanted the day’s proceedings to receive “widest publicity” even as CJI wanted the “media to show restraint.” Clearly, the government and judiciary thus could be mischievously shown to be on a collision course. The fact is Venugopal has, in fact, pulled up the four web portals: “Even under the law on sexual harassment, the name of the accused or victim cannot be published…but the report (published in news portals) had totally and brazenly published names.”

As things stand, it appears the plotters have actually harmed the interest of those they were seeking to protect. This week, the nation could end up thanking the CJI for acting with such speed that has left plotters nowhere to run. Before they could besmirch his name and muddle the hearing of important cases this week, the CJI has lobbed the hand-grenade back in their own front lawns. We could hear the explosion any moment from now.

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Ashish Shukla
Author of "How United States Shot Humanity", Senior Journalist, TV Presenter

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