Attorney General of India KK Venugopal has refused to give permission to initiate contempt of court proceedings against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, saying the statements made by him were “for the good” of the judiciary, Live Law reported on Saturday.
Venugopal acknowledged that “some very strong statements” were made by Gogoi in an interview, which he said, reflected his “deep frustration with the ills that undoubtedly beset the justice deliver system”. But everything Gogoi said was “for the good of the institution” and “will not scandalise the court or lower its authority in public eyes” in any manner, the attorney general said.
A request was made by activist Saket Gokhale on February 23 to initiate contempt proceedings against the former CJI for certain comments he made about the Supreme Court during an interview with India Today at a conclave organised by the channel on February 12.
During the interview, Gogoi had cast aspersions at the functionality of the judiciary, saying “only corporations willing to take chances with their millions of rupees go to Supreme Court”, according to the complaint. He told the channel that “if you were to go to the court, you would be only washing your dirty linen in the court, you won’t get a verdict” and that he had “no hesitation in saying it”.
The former CJI had also made an apparent remark against the Narendra Modi government and said, “You want a 5 trillion dollar economy but you have a ramshackled judiciary”, Live Law reported, citing the complaint.
Gokhale said that Gogoi’s statements constituted gross contempt of court and were an attempt to lower its dignity, especially considering that the statements came “from not a layperson but from someone who sat on the highest seat of the judiciary”.
The activist also referred to the contempt cases initiated against comedian Kunal Kamra and artist Rachita Taneja, stating that the consent granted by attorney general in these cases had established a benchmark of what constitutes as contempt of court.
In comparison, Gokhale said that Gogoi’s comments were “far more contemptuous in their degree and seriousness in scandalising” the Supreme Court.