Here are 5 things you should know about Ranjan Gogoi, the new Chief Justice of India

Here are 5 things you should know about Ranjan Gogoi, the new Chief Justice of India

On 13 September, Ranjan Gogoi, was appointed the Chief of Justice of India (CJI), succeeding Dipak Misra. The moment was historic. Gogoi is the first CJI from the Northeast of India. He is also stepping into Misra’s shoes ahead of the latter’s retirement on 2 October. Given his status as the senior-most judge on the Supreme Court after Misra, his appointment was all but guaranteed. He was recommended for the post on 4 September by his predecessor.

Gogoi has had a long and varied career since passing the bar in 1978. He spent the initial chunk of his career at the Guwahati High Court, before his transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 and eventual elevation to the Supreme Court in 2012.

Here are five things you should know about the 46th CJI:-

He will only have a tenure of 13 months

As per the Indian Constitution, Chief Justices cannot be above the age of 65. Just like his predecessor Misra, Gogoi, who is currently 63 years of age, will only hold the post of CJI for 13 months. He will turn 65 on November 17th next year. Following his retirement, he will likely be replaced by the Madan Bhimarao Lokur, who is the senior-most judge after him.

The short stints of Chief Justices has long been an issue of debate among Indian parliamentarians. Since independence, the 65-year limit has resulted in the average tenure of a CJI being around 18 months. Earlier this year, the government was said to be mulling a proposal to raise the retirement age of the CJI. However, this was mired in accusations that this was a ploy to prolong the tenure of Misra, who is said to favour the current administration.

His father is a former chief minister of Assam

Gogoi’s father, Keshab Chandra Gogoi, was a lawyer-turned politician and influential Congress leader in Assam. He became the chief minister of Assam for two months in 1982 as protests over the issue of illegal immigration swelled. Interestingly, according to the book Gauhati High Court: History and Heritage by Arup Kumar Dutta, when a colleague asked him if he wanted his son to become Chief Minister, KC Gogoi said that his son would one day become the CJI.

He’s presided over a number of important SC judgements

Gogoi has overseen a lot of important cases and judgements during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge. In May 2018, he revoked a proposal from the Uttar Pradesh government that allowed all ex-chief ministers to retain their official residences. He also presided over the cases of Arushi Talwar’s murder, the setting up of special courts to try Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies and a judgement prohibiting the government from using photographs of anyone else but the PM, President and the CJI for advertising purposes. He is currently leading a bench that has been tasked with monitoring updates to the National Register of Citizens in order to prevent unnecessary deportations of Assamese residents.

He has released details of his assets to the public

Gogoi is among the 11 out of 23 sitting judges in the Supreme Court who have published details of their assets and financial holdings on the SC website. According to the filing, he does not own a car and does not have any outstanding debts or investments in mutual funds or shares. Until this year, his most prominent assets were a piece of a land in Assam that he sold for ₹6.5 million in June 2018 and an old house he inherited from his mother in mid-2015.

He was one of the judges who criticised former CJI Dipak Misra

Gogoi’s possible appointment as CJI came under speculation after he and three other senior Supreme Court judges called a press conference at the beginning of 2018 to criticise CJI Misra and state the India’s democracy was under threat. In what was the first such event in the history of the Indian judicial system, the group of judges - which included Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and the now retired J Chelameswar - said that Misra’s system of allocating certain cases was faulty and politically motivated. As he takes on the post of CJI, one of Gogoi’s first tasks will to be clean the SC’s image and improving the roster system of case allocation.