Justice Ranjan Gogoi sworn in as Chief Justice of India
Justice Ranjan Gogoi was on Wednesday sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India. He succeeds Justice Dipak Misra. President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath to the 63-year-old Justice Gogoi at a brief ceremony in the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Darbar Hall. Justice Gogoi will have a tenure of a little over 13 months and retire on November 17, 2019.
Ranjan Gogoi (born 18 November 1954) is the current Chief Justice of India succeeding Dipak Misra and took the oath of office as the 46th Chief justice of India on 3 October 2018. His father Keshab Chandra Gogoi was Chief minister under the Indian National Congress regime in the state of Assam in the year 1982. He is the first person from Northeast India and first Assamese to become Chief Justice of India.
Justice Gogoi was enrolled at the Bar in 1978 and practised at the Gauhati High Court of which he was made a Permanent Judge on 28 February 2001. He was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 9 September 2010 and became its Chief Justice on 12 February 2011. He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 23 April 2012. On 3 October 2018, He took the oath of office of the chief justice of India, thus succeeding Dipak Misra.
Significant Judgments & Orders
Dismissal of appeal by Reliance Communication
A bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, dismissed the appeal of Reliance Communication, challenging the Gujarat government’s demand notices seeking to levy Rs 13-crore property tax on cell towers and telecom equipment installed on rooftops and building terraces in the state.
On Coconut Oil Packaging
In the case on whether coconut oil packaged in “small containers” be classified as edible oil or hair oil for the purpose of taxation, the Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and R. Banumathi were unable to arrive at a consensus to put this issue to rest. According to Justice Gogoi, Coconut oil would fall under the category of edible oil regardless of the size of its packaging while according to Justice Banumathi coconut oil, when it is packaged in small containers, would be classified as hair oil, regardless of whether it has been labelled as edible oil by the manufacturers.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R. Banumathi, has observed that in the absence of arbitration agreement, the court can refer parties to arbitration only with written consent of parties either by way of a joint memo or joint application and not on oral consent given by their counsels.
On Re-assessment of Income of Amitabh Bachchan for the year 2002-03
On May 2016, the bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice PC Pant quashed a 2012 Bombay High Court order that dismissed CIT’s power to re-assess income of Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan that he allegedly had from the popular TV quiz show, Kaun Banega Crorepati.
In October 2002, Bachchan filed returns showing income of Rs 14.99 crore for 2002-03. On March 31, 2003, he filed revised returns, declaring total income for 2002-03 in which he claimed expenses at 30% ad hoc amounting to Rs 6.31 crore, showing his income at Rs 8.11 crore. In March 2005, Income Tax Department determined the actor’s income at Rs 56.41 crore for the assessment year 2002-03.
Dismissal of advocate Kamini Jaiswal’s petition seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe
The Supreme Court bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi on JANUARY 24, 2018 dismissed Advocate Kamini Jaiswal’s petition seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the incidents of attacks on then JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar 15 and 17 February 2016, at Patiala House Court while he was escorted to courtroom in a sedition case.
23-year-old Soumya, an employee of a Kochi shopping mall, was assaulted by one Govindaswamy in an empty ladies’ coach of Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train on February 1, 2011. She was allegedly pushed off from the slow-moving train, carried to a wooded area and subsequently raped. She succumbed to injuries at the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, on February 6, 2011. Govindaswamy was awarded death sentence under section 302 IPC for committing murder by a trial court and the order was upheld by Kerala high court on December 17, 2013.
On 15 September 2016, the Apex Court Bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit set aside the death penalty awarded for the Offence of Murder (S.302) and sentenced Govindaswamy to a maximum of Life imprisonment for Rape (s.376 IPC) and other offences of causing bodily injuries.
However, to hold that the accused is liable under Section 302 IPC what is required is an intention to cause death or knowledge that the act of the accused is likely to cause death. The intention of the accused in keeping the deceased in a supine position, according to P.W. 64, was for the purposes of the sexual assault. The requisite knowledge that in the circumstances such an act may cause death, also, cannot be attributed to the accused, inasmuch as, the evidence of P.W. 64 itself is to the effect that such knowledge and information is, in fact, parted with in the course of training of medical and para-medical staff. The fact that the deceased survived for a couple of days after the incident and eventually died in Hospital would also clearly militate against any intention of the accused to cause death by the act of keeping the deceased in a supine position. Therefore, in the totality of the facts discussed above, the accused cannot be held liable for injury no.2. Similarly, in keeping the deceased in a supine position, intention to cause death or knowledge that such actions may cause death, cannot be attributed to the accused. We are, accordingly, of the view that the offence under Section 302 IPC cannot be held to be made out against the accused so as to make him liable therefor. Rather, we are of the view that the acts of assault, etc. attributable to the accused would more appropriately attract the offence under Section 325 IPC. We accordingly find the accused-appellant guilty of the said offence and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years for commission of the same…
…While the conviction under Section 376 IPC, Section 394 read with Section 397 IPC and Section 447 IPC and the sentences imposed for commission of the said offences are maintained, the conviction under Section 302 IPC is set aside…
Following the judgement of setting aside the death sentence of the accused in the said Govindaswamy vs State Of Kerala case, Justice Rajan Gogoi and his bench were severely criticized by members of the public, political leaders including Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, Law Minister of Kerala, A.K. Balan, Senior CPI(M) leader V. S. Achuthanandan, media members and legal luminaries including Supreme Court lawyer Kaleeswaram Raj and Supreme Court Justice (retd) Markandey Katju. Justice (retd) Katju had called the Supreme Court’s September 15 verdict a “grave error” not expected of “judges who had been in the legal world for decades”. The blog dated September 17 had castigated the Bench for believing “hearsay evidence” that Soumya jumped off the train instead of being pushed out by Govindaswamy. In the blog, Justice (retd) Katju had written,
Even a student of law in a law college knows this elementary principle that hearsay evidence is inadmissible.
In response, the SC bench led by Justice Rajan Gogoi decided to convert that blog by Justice Markandey Katju into a review petition and asked him to personally appear in court to debate. On November 11, 2016, he appeared in the court and submitted his arguments. The Court then dictated the order rejecting the review petition and issued contempt of court notice to him stating that “Prima facie, the statements made seem to be an attack on the Judges and not on the judgment”. On January 6, 2017, The Supreme Court has accepted Justice Markandey Katju’s apology and closed the contempt proceedings against him.
On people who are originally inhabitants of the state of Assam
On 5 December, 2017 , while disposing off a Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1020 of 2017, Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha & Others Versus Union of India & Others clubbed with similar other petitions seeking clarification as to the meaning of people who are originally inhabitants of the state of Assam , a term which appears in a schedule to the Citizenship (Registration Of Citizens And Issue Of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 pertaining to special provision as to manner of preparation of National Register of Indian Citizen in state of Assam, the bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi & Rohinton Fali Nariman observed that
The exercise of upgradation of NRC is not intended to be one of identification and determination of who are original inhabitants of the State of Assam….. Citizens who are originally inhabitants/residents of the State of Assam and those who are not are at par for inclusion in the NRC.
The National Register of Indian Citizens or in short the NRC, at its root, comprises of all the Local Registers of Indian Citizens containing details of Indian citizens usually residing in a village or rural area or town or ward or demarcated area (demarcated by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration) within a ward in a town or urban area.
The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Card) Rules, 2003 were amended in November 2009 and March, 2010 for preparation of National Register of Citizens by inviting applications from all the residents in Assam for updation of the old National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951 in Assam based on relevant records. In order to undertake updating of NRC in all districts of Assam, pilot projects for updating of NRC in two blocks (one each in Kamrup and Barpeta districts) were started in June, 2010. Subsequently, pilot projects were stopped due to law and order problems. A second attempt to update the register for Assam was made by the Government of India through issuing a Gazette Notification in December 2013.
On 17 December 2014, the bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi & Rohinton Fali Nariman mandated the Government of India to complete the finalization of final updated NRC for the entire state of Assam by 1st January 2016.