New Delhi: Outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday sent a letter to the Union law ministry recommending the name of the seniormost Supreme Court judge, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, as his successor.
After the recommendation is accepted, Justice Gogoi will become the 46th CJI and the first Northeast judge to take charge of the highest office in the Indian judiciary. He hails from Assam and is the son of former chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi of the Congress. Justice Gogoi was appointed a judge in the Gauhati high court on February 28, 2001, and later became Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court on February 12, 2011. He was elevated to the Supreme Court in April 2012. He will have a tenure of a little over a year as CJI and is due to retire on November 17, 2019.
Though it was expected that the recommendation letter of CJI Misra would be delivered to the law ministry on Sunday, it was delivered only on Tuesday. The Centre is likely to approve the recommendation after due process and Justice Gogoi is expected to take the oath on October 3.
Earlier, the law ministry had sent a communication to CJI Misra to recommend the name of his successor so that it could begin the process of appointment at least three weeks before Justice Misra demits office. Normally the recommendation is sent a month before the CJI is due to step down.
There was speculation over Justice Gogoi’s appointment as the next CJI after an unprecedented press conference by the court’s four seniormost judges, including Justice Gogoi, in January this year when they criticised Chief Justice Misra over various issues, especially the manner of allocation of cases to certain benches. It was feared Justice Gogoi might be superseded. However, all the speculation has now been put to rest after Justice Misra recommended Justice Gogoi as his successor.
Under the memorandum of procedure evolved under the collegium system, it is customary for the outgoing CJI to name the seniormost judge as his successor. There have been two attempts earlier to bypass the convention or to “supersede” judges after Independence.
Justice Gogoi now heads the special bench monitoring the updation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam to identify citizens and weed out illegally settled foreigners. He is also part of the bench monitoring the appointment of the Lokpal and lokayuktas in states.
Justice Gogoi had held that government advertisements could only include photographs of the Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India — this was meant to be a measure to ensure politicians in power could not use taxpayer money to gain political advantage.
The UP government amended the law to allow former chief ministers of the state to continue to retain possession of their official accommodation. Justice Gogoi struck down the amendment, holding this law will create a separate class for such retired public servants, that is not permissible under the Constitution.
Justice Gogoi is known both for his simplicity and ability to take tough decisions.
This was evident when he slapped a contempt notice on former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju for his Facebook post criticising his ruling in the Kerala Souma rape and murder case. Later, Justice Gogoi accepted Justice Katju’s apology and closed the contempt proceedings.