Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took oath as a member of Rajya Sabha today amid jeers and chants of “shame” from the Congress and other opposition parties that believe the appointment severely compromises the independence of the judiciary.
All opposition parties except the Samajwadi Party walked out in protest in the middle of the oath.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came to Justice Gogoi’s defence saying: “Rajya Sabha has a great tradition of many eminent persons coming from diverse fields, including former Chief Justices. Justice Gogoi who has taken oath today will surely contribute his best. It was grossly unfair to do that (Congress walkout).”
The chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, said there were established rules and precedents for the appointment and the opposition was not right to behave this way.
Justice Gogoi’s wife Rupanjali Gogoi, daughter, and son-in-law were present in parliament.
Justice Gogoi, who retired as the country’s top judge just four months ago, had defended taking up the role saying his presence in parliament will “be an opportunity to project the views of the judiciary before the legislative and vice versa”.
“I have accepted it since I have a strong conviction that the legislative and the judiciary must at some point of time work together for nation-building. My presence in parliament will be an opportunity to project the views of the judiciary before the legislature and vice versa,” he said on Tuesday.
Justice Gogoi was part of many landmark judgments, including the Ayodhya verdict in which the Supreme Court handed over the disputed site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims for a Ram temple and ordered a different site for a mosque.
The Congress calls Justice Gogoi’s appointment a “serious, unprecedented and unpardonable assault” on the basic structure of the Constitution.
“Our Constitution is based on separation of powers of the judiciary and the executive. The judiciary thrives on perception of aastha (belief) and vishwas (faith). But all of them have taken the beating,” said Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Former Supreme Court Justice Kurian Joseph has also criticised his former colleague, saying his decision would damage the confidence of the common man on the independence of the judiciary.
“‘We have discharged our debt to the nation’ was the statement made by Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with the three of us on January 12, 2018. I am surprised as to how Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who once exhibited such courage of conviction to uphold the independence of judiciary, has compromised the noble principles on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary,” said Justice Joseph.