Justice Ranjan Gogoi took charge as the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI) earlier today. He was He was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Darbar Hall in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Here's a brief profile on Gogoi, the first person from the Northeast to hold India's highest judicial office.
Hailing from Dibrugarh, Assam, the 63-year-old is the son of former Assam chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi. His elder brother is retired Air Marshal Anjan Gogoi. He did his schooling at Don Bosco School Dibrugarh and pre-university in Guwahati's Cotton College, before moving to the capital for higher education.
After graduating from St Stephens College (Honours in History), he pursued a post graduate degree in law from Delhi University and returned to Guwahati in 1978 to join the Bar. As an advocate he practised in the Gauhati High Court on constitutional, taxation and company matters. On February 28, 2001, he was appointed as Permanent Judge of the High Court and, nine years on, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
After a 14-month-long stint as the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011-12, Gogoi was elevated as a Supreme Court judge on April 23, 2012. In the ensuing years, he has been a part of several significant judgements, including setting a deadline for updating and publishing the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC), setting up of special courts to exclusively try sitting MPs and MLAs and the appointment of anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal.
He had also led the Supreme Court bench that had agreed to hear the Central Bureau of Investigation's appeal against the Allahabad High Court's acquittal of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the Aarushi murder case, one of India's most sensational cases. Last year, he was a part of the bench that took the unprecedented action of jailing a sitting High Court judge, CS Karnan, for contempt.
However, the public will likely remember him for his part in the near revolt against former CJI Dipak Misra. Gogoi had made headlines for participating in the controversial and unprecedented press conference held by four (including himself) of the top court's senior-most judges accusing Misra of selective case allocation. He later remarked at a public function that "independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy's first line of defence", adding that a "revolution, not reform" was needed to keep the institution of judiciary serviceable for the common man.
It's fitting then that Gogoi will be the first Indian CJI ever to hear cases in front of a camera - last month the apex court gave the nod to live streaming of its proceedings.
Last week, at another public function, Gogoi had mentioned that his priority as CJI would be to combat the backlog of cases, the most politically-charged ones being the Ram Janmbabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, NRC and the plea challenging the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. According to FirstPost, total pendency in the courts stands at around 3.18 crore cases. A bulk of that is stuck in the lower courts.
On his very first day in office, Gogoi has made a landmark decision to tackle the backlog as promised: He announced today that urgent mentioning of cases will no longer be allowed randomly. According to him, the Supreme Court will soon ascertain certain parameters, including executions, evictions or threat to life, to decide which cases can be considered for urgent hearings, Times Now reported. "If somebody is going to be hanged tomorrow, then we can understand (urgency)," he added.
Like his predecessor Misra, Justice Gogoi will serve a 13-month tenure as CJI. He will retire on November 17, 2019, a day before he turns 65 years old.
With PTI inputs
Edited By Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal
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