Ranjan Gogoi, the 46th Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court has today earned millions of fans. It has been an inexplicable day of joy for Hindus and Ram bhakts all over the world. The man who deserves the majority of the credit today is none other than Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who said “enough is enough” and courageously decided to pass the judgement on this long-drawn contentious issue before his retirement on November 17.
The Ayodhya Verdict has finally come and a five-judge bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi has ruled in favour of a Ram Mandir at the disputed site and ordered that 5 acres of alternative land be given to the Muslim party.
Earlier, there was a general, and fortunately incorrect perception of CJI Ranjan Gogoi being heavily politically inclined against the BJP. This perception stemmed from the fact that his father was a senior Congress leader and even served as the Chief Minister of Assam.
However, ever since assuming office, he has proved us all wrong, due to the sheer dedication, strength and confidence with which he handled several high voltage cases. A series of judgements during his tenure as CJI have shown that he is a strict, no-nonsense person, sagacious in his viewpoints and reasoning.
With today’s verdict on the Ram Janmbhoomi title dispute, Chief Justice Gogoi has registered his name in the history books of this land, for being the person responsible for solving India’s longest-standing legal dispute.
Mr. Ranjan Gogoi hails from Dibrugarh, Assam. He received schooling from Don Bosco School, Dibrugarh and later went to Delhi for higher studies, where he studied at St. Stephen’s College. Having received a law degree from the Delhi University, Gogoi became a part of the Bar and started practice in the Gauhati High Court. In 2001, he was made a permanent judge of the same court. He was then transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 9 September 2010, becoming its Chief Justice on 12 February 2011. On 23 April 2012, he was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court. Since October 2018, he has been serving as India’s Chief Justice.
Under CJI Gogoi, Supreme Court sat for a forty-day long marathon hearing of the dispute on a daily basis. The five-judge bench, which comprised of Chief Justice Gogoi, Chief Justice-designate SA Bobde, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Abdul Nazeer set for these forty days from 10:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon, with the sole aim to hear out all sides and put an end to the long-standing dispute. Unlike his predecessors, who generally played softball on the contentious dispute, Chief Justice Gogoi took the bull from the horns and decided to settle the case for once and for all.
In August this year, after the mediation attempt had failed, it was Ranjan Gogoi who decided to go ahead with the day-to-day hearing on the matter. To put it straight, it required sheer courage and decisiveness to take such a decision, even when there were certain elements in the political class who wanted the legal process to remain stalled for their own benefits.
On 18th of October, the last day of the hearings, Chief Justice Gogoi made it amply clear that the arguments will be wrapped up by 5 pm. Rajeev Dhawan, senior counsel appearing for the Sunni Waqf Board indulged in substandard theatrics inside the courtroom, such as tearing up of evidence presented to him. On this, Gogoi called upon him to ‘shred the evidence further’, in a sarcastic tone.
While the other judges too deserve a fair share of the credit for coming up with a unanimous verdict on the dispute, Chief Justice Gogoi will be remembered for ages to come as the man who decided to bring an end to this case without fearing the consequences.
It has been noticed that on cases of national interest, Chief Justice Gogoi has always stood by the nation. While many frivolous petitions were filed before him on the Rafale deal, NRC and Article 370 issues, he maintained composure and gave the government time to explain their position on the said issues. On the alleged Rafale ‘scam’, he dismissed all petitions, putting an end to the fabricated lies of the opposition in the run-up to the 2019 elections giving a clean chit to the Modi government. Before he retires on 17th November, he is expected to decide upon the merit of some more review petitions which were filed against the dismissal of previous petitions.
On the issue of NRC, speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Post-Colonial Assam’, Gogoi said that the NRC was not just a document of the moment. “Nineteen lakh or 40 lakh is not the point. But it is a base document for the future. A document on which we can refer to determine future claims. The intrinsic value of the NRC, in my view, is mutual peaceful co-existence. Progressive societies are meant to be inclusive.” He further slammed the media’s biased coverage on the issue.
Similarly, Chief Justice Gogoi maintained his calm after the abrogation of Article 370, a period during which the liberals and ‘human rights’ activists were going gaga. At the same time, he maintained a subtle pressure on the government for it to remain on its toes. After several frivolous petitions were filed on the issue, he put a stop to the filing of further petitions challenging the abrogation. Gogoi is due to hear the petitions on Article 370 on 14th November. It must also be mentioned that the Supreme Court was being requested to conduct immediate hearings on Article 370, however, Chief Justice Gogoi plainly refused to entertain such pleas, stating that the Court had no time and that the focus was on settling the Ram Janmbhoomi dispute. This, in itself, proves how dedicated the man has been to find a solution to the contentious dispute which was historically settled today.
Chief Justice Gogoi is due to retire on 17th November. It would be an understatement to say that he has been one of the most successful, determined and courageous Chief Justice this country has witnessed. For this historic judgement that he and the five-judge bench have delivered today, they deserve a collective thanks from all Indians. It is indeed a matter of deep pride that a man from the northeastern state of Assam held the chair of Chief Justice of India and demonstrated what courage and decisiveness is and the importance of ensuring justice even if it meant shattering the status quo and sending shock waves across the nation.