Justice Ranjan Gogoi is all set to take over as Chief Justice of India on Tuesday. He will be sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind as the 46th Chief Justice of India. His tenure will end November next year. Gogoi will be the first Chief Justice of India from the north-east.
As is the norm, Gogoi, the senior-most after outgoing CJI Dipak Misra, was recommended by the latter and the appointment was then confirmed by President Kovind in September this year.
Justice Gogoi started his career as a Permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court in February 2001. He went on to be transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 and was appointed Chief Justice there in 2011. He came to the Supreme Court as a judge on April 23, 2012.
There was speculation on Justice Gogoi’s elevation, following the unprecedented press conference on January 12 this year, when Justice Gogoi and three colleagues — Justices J Chelameswar (since retired), Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — raised questions on the CJI’s allocation of cases to benches in the Supreme Court.
At the Supreme Court, Justice Gogoi is currently monitoring the update process of the National Register of Citizens, intended to identify illegal migrants in Assam. He is also dealing with a plea seeking appointment of Lokpal. Earlier, he was part of the seven-judge bench, which, in May 2017, held Calcutta High Court Judge C S Karnan guilty of contempt of court. He also headed the bench that directed the government to set up special courts to fast-track cases against politicians. In May this year, his bench struck down an amendment passed by the Uttar Pradesh government that allowed all former chief ministers to retain their official residences.
Last week, the former CJI dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of Justice Gogoi, saying the petition was “devoid of merits”. Referring to the press conference called by the judges in January, the petitioners claimed that they “tried to arouse public furore in the country in the names of certain internal differences in this court”. “We are of the view that it is not the stage to interfere (with the appointment),” the bench said.
At the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture, Justice Gogoi had said that noisy judges and independent journalists are democracy’s first line of defence and a revolution, not mere reform, is needed to keep the institution of the judiciary responsive to the changes in society.
Justice Gogoi, a stickler for discipline, has garnered a reputation for being a judge who applies his mind, is proper and holds all nature of relationships in high regard. His colleagues in the topmost court term him as “a man of few words, strong and deep convictions and also a man of action. He speaks little but acts.”