Former Chief Justice of India and Rajya Sabha MP Ranjan Gogoi revealed that the judiciary is being held at ‘ransom’ by a handful of people. Speaking to Times of India after taking oath as an MP nominated by the President of India, ex-CJI Gogoi said that the judicial independence was under threat because of a stronghold of a ‘lobby’ which comprises of about half a dozen people.
He further said that the same set of people go and malign a judge if a judgement does not go as per their wish. Justice Gogoi further added that the judiciary will not be fully independent in its true sense unless the stronghold of these people was broken. “They hold judges at ransom. If a case is not decided in a particular way advocated by them, they malign the judge in every way possible,” he said.
Speaking on the allegations that his Rajya Sabha nomination was a quid pro quo for the Ayodhya verdict where the 5-judge Supreme Court bench headed by him ruled in favour of the temple, Gogoi said he was being maligned because he defied the lobby. He added that he decided on the basis of what his conscience. “If a judge decides a case fearing what the half-a-dozen people will say, then he is not true to his oath,” he told the Times of India. Furthering on the judgement, he said, “It was a unanimous verdict by a five-judge bench. Rafale was again a unanimous verdict by a three-judge bench. By alleging quid pro quo aren’t they questioning the integrity of all three judges involved in the two judgements?”
Dismissing the insinuations that he was ‘compensated’ for the Ayodhya and Rafale verdict, he said that if a former CJI wants quid pro quo, he could seek bigger, better posts with more lucrative emoluments. Rajya Sabha nomination would hardly fit since the benefits of a Rajya Sabha MP are quite similar to that of a retired judge. He further added that if rules permit, he would not take the salary and allowances and give it to refurbish libraries in smaller towns.
He further added how he was hailed when he participated in the historic press conference in January 2018 against ex-CJI Dipak Misra. “I was the darling of the lobby when I went for the press conference in 2018. But they want judges to decide cases in a certain manner and only then will they certify them as ‘independent judges’,” he said. In January 2018, four senior Supreme Court judges namely Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph, called a press conference to inform the nation of “their failed efforts” to convince the Chief Justice to take steps to protect the institution.
Speaking to India Today, CJI Gogoi said that if the President of India makes you an offer under Article 80 and tells you that the nation needs your service, you do not refuse. “You shouldn’t refuse that,” he said. “So far as quid pro quo is concerned, if you write five judgements against the government, then only you are eligible for nomination under Article 80? If you write judgements which eventually turn out to be in favour of the government, only then are you eligible?” he said. “If it was a quid pro quo, I wouldn’t have stopped at Rajya Sabha membership,” he said.