Ranjan Gogoi's nomination to RS: Amnesiac rambling of secular liberals , hallucination over erosion of constitutional morality and values

Shekhar Datta

Presidential nomination of former chief justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha seems to have boosted up the sagging morale of the secular liberal (SL) chatteratti in metropolitan media, besides giving a dose of much-needed oxygen to the beleaguered Congress. Moral grandstanding and lofty discourse over the nomination of the ex chief justice have already reached a fever pitch with self-appointed custodians of constitutional morality reaching a consensus that Gogoi's nomination is a reward over the apex court's judgment on the contentious 'Ram Janmabhoomi' issue and Rafale dispute.  The bankrupt Congress stable as well as their SL allies seem to have conveniently forgotten that the 'Ram Janmabhoomi' verdict had been delivered by a five-member bench including a minority judge unanimously. Rahul Gandhi's pet Rafale case had been disposed of by a three-member bench on the basis of all highly sensitive and strictly confidential papers furnished by the government of India in sealed cover. The apex court also rebuffed the activists and SL brigade by firmly refusing to review the order in open court with unimpeachable arguments. 

It is amusing, to say the least, how retired chief justice Ranjan Gogoi had endeared himself to the SL brigade after he had protested the case allotment in the apex court by then chief justice Dipak Misra in an interaction with the media and his elevation to the post of chief justice turned out to be a celebratory occasion for the SLs. But his post-retirement nomination to Rajya Sabha has raised the hackles of culturally rootless and history-averse false icons of the secular liberal brigade nibbling at the tentacles of the essence of India. A recapitulation of history in this context seems to be in order :-

1) Former justice of Supreme Court, 'Khan Saheb' and 'Khan Bahadur' Fazal Ali had been a judge of the Supreme Court between 15th October 1951 and 30th May 1952. This was followed by his stint as governor of Orissa between 1952 and 1956 and then as governor for the troubled state of Assam for three years between 1956 and 1959.

2) Former chief justice of India Mohammed Hidaytullah had a nearly two year stint in the Supreme Court between 25th February 1968 and December 16 1970. He was the Vice President of India between 31st August 1979 and 30th August 1984. No question had been raised as Md Hidyatullah was a man of sterling honesty and integrity besides being an eminent jurist.

3) The case of Fatima Bibi, first female judge of the Supreme Court and also a member of the minority community, is interesting. She had joined as Supreme Court judge in 1989 and subsequently became a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). And then in the year 1997 she was appointed as governor of Tamil Nadu and remained in the post till 2001.

4) But the case of former Supreme Court justice Baharul Islam is positively bizarre to say the least. A trained and practicing lawyer Baharul Islam had been a Congress member of Rajya Sabha between 1962-1972. The he retired to become a judge of Guwahati High Court where he also became a chief justice and retired from service. By a quirk of fate or bounty of Indira Gandhi Baharul was called out from retirement to become a judge of the Supreme Court (1980-1983). During his stint he did Congress a very good turn by absolving former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra of involvement of urban co-operative bank scam. His services were richly rewarded as Baharul Islam had a six year stint in Rajya Sabha from Assam under the sponsorship of Congress from 1983 to 1989.

5) Another major beneficiary of Congress’s and then silent SL Brigade's bounty was former chief justice of India Ranganath Misra. From the post of chief justice of Orissa high court from 1981 Ranganath was promoted as judge of Supreme Court in 1983 and was the chief justice of India for the brief period between 25th September 1990 to 24th November 1991. His proud record was that he had absolved Congress party from any responsibility for the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 as the head of an inquiry commission. His services brought sufficient reward as within two years of his retirement the then P.V.Narasimha Rao government made him the first chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for three years between 1993-1996. This was not all as Ranganath Misra was also made a Rajya Sabha member from Orissa for full six years between 1998-2004 by Congress party. 

6) Even though he was a non-controversial man, former chief justice P.Sathasivam of Supreme Court had been made governor of Kerala by the NDA government for six years between 5th September 2014 and 4th September 2019.

Given this, do the SL brigade and their patrons have any moral or ethical right to object to the presidential nomination of CJI Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha? He is not nominee of any party; nor has ever saved any leader from wrong-doing charge or absolved any party from responsibility. His father Keshav Chandra Gogoi was a Congress chief minister of Assam-albeit for a brief period of three months-so his political legacy or inheritance is above question. Most important, whether a legislation or act require to be enacted debarring high judicial functionaries from holding political or administrative posts post-retirement is an altogether different debate. But then the inevitable question that arises is-who will man the umpteen number of standing  commissions , committees , inquiry commissions et al that involve knowledge of law ,  constitution and their application ? Gogoi's nomination by the president militates against no existing law, article of the constitution or even convention, then why the hullabaloo? The ignoramuses among the SL brigade should inform themselves and those who pretend to sleep while awake should face reality rather than rant on any issue. 

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