NATIONAL

As Gogoi takes oath, Opposition walks out

Dissenting view:Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi arriving at Parliament Houseon Thursday to take oath as a Rajya Sabha member.SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Dissenting view:Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi arriving at Parliament Houseon Thursday to take oath as a Rajya Sabha member.SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR  

Appointmenthas disgraced judiciary: Cong.

Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday took oath as a Rajya Sabha member amidst protests and walkout by Opposition parties. The Congress said his appointment had disgraced the Indian judiciary.

The ruckus began as soon as Chairman Venkaiah Naidu called out Justice Gogoi's name. Opposition parties, including the Congress, Left parties, the DMK and the MDMK, started raising slogans “Shame on You” and many screamed “Deal”. Mr Naidu ordered that the sloganeering would not go on record. He attempted to bring order to the House but without avail. The Opposition parties staged a walkout even as Justice Gogoi was taking oath.

“We know the constitutional position; we know the precedents; we know the powers of the President of India. We should not do anything like this in the House. Whatever views you have, you can express them outside; you are at liberty,” Mr. Naidu said.

Justice Gogoi, 65, who retired in November last, took oath in English.

In defence

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rose to defend his government's decision to nominate Justice Gogoi citing the tradition of choosing eminent persons from diverse fields, including former Chief Justices by Congress governments in the past. “Hon'ble member Ranjan Gogoi, who has taken oath today will surely contribute his best as a nominated member. It was grossly unfair on their part to do like that,” Mr. Prasad told the Opposition.

Rangnath Mishra case

Minutes later, Congress leaders Anand Sharma and P. Chidambaram addressed a press conference outside the House. Mr. Sharma said Justice Gogoi’s appointment raised bona fide questions about quid pro quo. “It has lowered the very dignity of the office that he had or rather disgraced judiciary..”

He said that examples like Rangnath Mishra, the 21st Chief Justice of India who gave a clean chit to the Congress in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, serving as a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress between 1998 and 2004 could not be compared to Justice Gogoi's appointment because there was a time lag between his appointment to the House and retirement. In the case of Justice Gogoi, the difference between his retirement and entry to the Rajya Sabha was just four months, he noted.

The Congress pointed out that Justice Gogoi himself had said that post retirement appointment or accepting any position would be a scar on the independence of the judiciary.

During Justice Gogoi's 13-month tenure, the Supreme Court delivered landmark judgement in the Ayodhya case, on the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the entry of women into Kerala's Sabarimala temple and the Rafale jet deal along with Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC).

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