On Friday, Attorney General of India KK Venugopal refused to give his consent to initiate contempt proceedings against former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi. The development comes days after Congress troll Saket Gokhale wrote to AG seeking his sanction for contempt of court proceedings against the ex-CJI for comments made during an interview with India Today.
In his reply to Gokhale, AG KK Venugopal said, “It is true that in the interview referred to by you. Chief Justice (retd.) Ranjan Gogoi has initially made some very strong statements about the judiciary and the Supreme Court of India. The statements apparently reflect his deep frustration with the ills that undoubtedly beset the justice delivery system.”
While refusing to give consent to contempt of court proceedings, the Attorney General emphasised, “However, I had occasion to watch the entirety of his interview. It is obvious that all that has been said was for the good of the institution and will not in any manner scandalize the court or lower its authority in the eyes of the public. I accordingly decline consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Rule 3(c) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for the Contempt of the Supreme Court of India, 1975.”
Saket Gokhale seeks permission for contempt proceedings against ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi
In a letter to the Attorney General on Tuesday (February 23), Congress supporter Saket Gokhale cherry-picked comments made by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to insinuate that he has spoken against the credibility of the Indian judicial system. The interview in question was organised by India Today group on February 12 this year.
1. “You want a 5 trillion dollar economy but you have a ramshackled judiciary” 2. “If you were to go to the co., you’d be only washing your dirty linen in the court. You won’t get a verdict. I have no hesitation in saying it.” 3. “Only corporations, willing to take chances with their millions of rupees go to the Supreme Co.” 4. “What is your opinion of the judiciary? Not very positive.” 5. “The judicial system has not worked for more reason than one.” 6. “Unfortunately, there are many judges who are succumbing to criticism made in the media.” Gokhale quoted these 6 statements made by the former CJI.
Activist @SaketGokhale seeks sanction for #contempt of court proceedings from AG KK Venugopal against former CJI Ranjan Gogoi for statements made at the @IndiaToday event. Letter says statements by Gogoi “if you go to court you only wash dirty linen in public” is contemptuous pic.twitter.com/PReCDkBAkc— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 23, 2021
Gokhale also attempted to draw moral high ground by drawing false equivalence with the contempt cases against Kumal Kamra and Rachita Taneja. “Moreover, precedent established by your office in granting prosecution consent to contempt cases against comedian Kunal Kamra and artist Rachita Taneja have established a benchmark for what constitutes contempt of court in your opinion. The comments made by former CJI Sh. Ranjan Gogoi are far more contemptous in their degree and seriousness in scandalizing the Hon’ble Supreme Court than the innocous tweets made by the other two individuals above-named,” he claimed.
He added, “These statements, especially coming from a former Chief Justice of India, who is now a Parliamentarian, constitute a gross contempt of court and undermine the sta. of the Hon’ble Supreme Co. especially considering they come from not a layperson but from someone who sat on the highest seat of our judiciary.”
Attorney General had refused consent to Gokhale for contempt proceedings against activist Shefali Vaidya
Saket Gokhale, who claims to be an ardent follower of Gandhi-scion Rahul Gandhi, had sought the permission of the Attorney General in December last year to file a contempt petition against writer Shefali Vaidya under Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, alleging that she had made some objectionable comments against country’s judiciary. Responding to the letter, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the tweets posted by Shefali Vaidya on her Twitter page, which according to Gokhale was contempt of court, were made almost a year back.
The Attorney General KK Venugopal said that according to the Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, one cannot initiate any contempt action either suo motu or otherwise after the expiry of one year from the date of the allegedly contumacious conduct. “In these circumstances, therefore, without going into the merits of your request, no action can be taken against Ms Shefali Vaidya. I accordingly decline consent,” the AG Venugopal said.