A defamation case has been filed against former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi at a local court in Guwahati, PTI reported on Thursday.
The case has been filed by Assam Public Works president Aabhijeet Sharma against the former chief justice and Rupa Publications – the publisher of Gogoi’s autobiography Justice for a Judge – for allegedly making misleading and defamatory statements about him in the book. He has sought Rs 1 crore in damages.
Sharma has also filed a petition seeking an injunction order against Gogoi, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, and his publisher from further publishing, distributing or selling any book that has the alleged defamatory statements and imputations against him. The book was released in 2021.
Gogoi served as the 46th chief justice of India between 2018 and 2019. He was part of the judgments in several key cases such as the Rafale fighter jet deal, the National Register of Citizens and the Babri Masjid dispute.
In his complaint, Sharma alleged that Gogoi, in his biography, has accused him of carrying out “personal attacks” on the former chief justice and former NRC coordinator in Assam Prateek Hajela, reported the Hindustan Times.
According to Sharma, Gogoi in the book wrote: “At the local level, personal attacks on the SCNR [Hajela] and veiled attacks on the judges, particularly me, by local politicians and specifically by Aabhijeet Sharma, the president of Assam Public Works, left us [the Bench] convinced that orders should be passed to protect former state NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela from undue harassment and calculated harm. The bench passed the order dated October 18, 2019, for his deputation on inter-cadre transfer to Madhya Pradesh, his home state.”
The NRC exercise was meant to be a register of Indian citizens living in Assam, sifted from undocumented migrants in the state. The process of updating the NRC ended on August 31, 2019, when a purportedly final list was published – over 19 lakh applicants were left out of the register.
In 2017, Sharma had alleged that Hajela was involved in a scam related to the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens, according to the newspaper. A Supreme Court bench headed by Gogoi had then passed a suo moto contempt case against Sharma and asked him to tender an unconditional apology before the court.
On Wednesday, Sharma alleged that imputations against him in the book are “inherently false and malicious” and have been made with a clear intention to defame him.
“I have never made any personal attack on Gogoi while he was serving in the highest post of adjudicator of India,” he said, according to PTI.
Meanwhile, the Guwahati court, after going through the petition and documents, said that there is “substantial question both of law and facts to be adjudicated”. It then issued a summons to both the petitioner and the defendants and posted the case forhearing on June 3.