The nomination of the former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, to the Rajya Sabha, brings under the spotlight the issue of judicial integrity and the doctrine of separation of the judiciary from the executive. What is more unfortunate is the defence of citing past political appointments of judges such as Justice Ranganath Mishra and Justice Baharul Islam. Nothing can be more damaging for our democracy than people’s diminishing faith in the judicial system. Impartiality and an aloofness have been its hallmarks and should not be diluted. Justice Gogoi has overseen a number of path-changing judgments and it would not be right for him to move into politics. .
Bhind, Madhya Pradesh
The development only reinforces the perception that the judiciary’s independence is eroding and the line between the constitutional separation of powers between the judiciary and executive is blurring. The government’s actions of praising the judiciary of late make one suspicious. Is India’s judiciary destroying its own independency, impartiality and integrity at the hands of the executive and in danger of losing the trust of millions?
It is true that in the past, Chief Justices have accepted high public office after retirement but what is unique and unfortunate in the Gogoi case is that he has been offered a Rajya Sabha membership by the ruling party. This assumes relevance because it is he, as a Chief Justice of India, who presided over the Bench that gave the Ayodhya verdict, a case of far-reaching consequence to the ruling party. Immediately, after his retirement, he was given Z-plus security and other benefits which have not been conferred to any other retiring CJI. This has cast a shadow on the institution.
In contrast is Justice H.R. Khanna who wrote the sole dissenting judgment in the habeas corpus case during the Emergency and which cost him the office of CJI. He walked away to lead the life of a judicial monk. His portrait is in the Court’s hall — an example to emulate.
It is disappointing that Justice Gogoi has been nominated within no time after his retirement. This does raise doubts about the impartial conduct of the judiciary. People cannot be blamed if they begin to wonder about his conduct while serving in the judiciary.
Nellimarla, Andhra Pradesh
The very word COVID-19 strikes an invidious and incalculable terror along with anguish as the pandemic continues its march. Despite efforts, there does not seem to be much headway in slowing the spread.
One hopes that the wringing of our hands in utter despair ends and that medicine is able to provide the breakthrough. For nations, this is the time for cooperation.
The depiction by cartoonist Surendra, of actor Rajinikanth on a treadmill with a placard reading ‘Coming soon!’ (OpEd page, Cartoonscape, March 17) is a subtle message that he will not enter politics just as the treadmill only rotates where it is. While his die-hard fans still ‘believe’ he is the right person to make a difference perhaps the ‘Coming soon!’ placard is more a foretelling of his forthcoming film than about his political plunge.