Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s Rajya Sabha nomination triggers plea in Supreme Court

The petition filed by academic Madhu Purnima Kishwar contended that former judges should be insulated from “post-retirement allurements” like the Lokpal

Published - March 19, 2020 01:29 am IST - NEW DELHI

Madhu Purnima Kishwar. File

Madhu Purnima Kishwar. File

A petition filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday conveyed the “widespread disquiet and unease” triggered by the nomination of the former chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha and sought the court’s intervention for extending the post-retirement restrictions imposed on the office of the Lokpal to former judges as well.

The petition filed by academic Madhu Purnima Kishwar contended that former judges should be insulated from “post-retirement allurements” like the Lokpal, as the country otherwise risked having public faith in an independent judiciary dry up.

Section 8 of the Lokpal Act mandates that a retired chairperson or member of the Lokpal, an anti-corruption ombudsman, would be ineligible for reappointment, not hold diplomatic posts or be made an administrator of a Union Territory, and observe a five-year moratorium from contesting elections.

The petitioner also noted how unlike in the case of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and Chairman and Members of the Union and State Public Service Commissions, the framers of the Constitution did not make any explicit provisions restricting the post retirement acceptance of public offices by the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts as “they (former judges) were expected to conduct themselves in such a manner even after their retirement so as not to create an adverse impression about the independence of judiciary”.

Ms. Kishwar said Justice Gogoi’s acceptance of the nomination was “befuddling” as he had “himself pronounced that there is a valid strong viewpoint that post-retirement appointment is itself a scar on judicial independence of the judiciary”. She also sought to remind the court that Justice Gogoi was one of the four apex court judges who had held the January 12, 2018, press conference demanding that the independence of judiciary from the executive be safeguarded.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, chairperson of the Bar Council of India, said the former CJI’s nomination was a “novel initiative” by the President. It would be an “ideal opportunity to portray the first hand views of the judiciary before the lawmakers and vice-versa,” he opined.

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