With barely two weeks left for the retirement of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, the entire country is eagerly waiting for the verdicts of crucial cases including the Ayodhya case. The other cases expected to be delivered by Gogoi are the Review in Sabarimala women’s entry case, Review in Rafale case and contempt petition against Rahul Gandhi in relation to the allegations raised against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gogoi’s retirement day is November 17 (Sunday) and all these judgments pending are to be delivered on or before his working day which is November 15, Friday.
Among all these pending cases, the most-watched case is the Ayodhya judgment, where there are chances of split judgments by other Judges of the Bench apart from the Chief Justice of India’s Judgment, anticipate many legal experts. Legal experts say, whether the unified Judgment or split judgments coming can be confirmed only by the last evening before the Judgment day, which is any day on or before November 15.
A similar expectation of a split judgment is also anticipated in the Review of Sabarimala case, where the majority judged for women’s entry. In Review Bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi, except him, all the other Judges were part of the previous Bench in which only Justice Indu Malhotra judged against women’s entry. While Justice Indu Malhotra insisted on the continuation of ban on women’s entry and observed for maintaining the temple’s tradition. But all four Judges including the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra ordered for women entry citing the temple custom is against the gender justice. The other three Judges Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and R F Nariman who supported the women’s entry in Sabarimala Temple are also part of the Review Petition hearing Bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi and the lone dissenting Judge Justice Indu Malhotra.
If Justices A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, and R F Nariman are not changing their earlier stand, the Review Petition will be rejected, and the Apex Court will ratify its earlier Judgment in Sabarimala case which allowed women’s entry.
The other politically sensitive case is the Review Petition in the Rafale case, after the petitioners, Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, and Yashwant Sinha pointed out the errors in the earlier judgment. Besides, the apex court bench headed by Justice Gogoi will pronounce its verdict on a plea seeking criminal contempt proceedings against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his “chowkidar chor hai” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The politically sensitive Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute hearing was ended after a marathon hearing of 40 days on October 16. At present, the apex court is on Diwali break and will re-open on November 4. Thereafter, the court would observe holidays on November 11 and 12, leaving only eight working days before Justice Gogoi demits office as the CJI on November 17.
Another important judgment that is awaited is about the power of the Right to Information (RTI) Act on Courts’ related information. On April 4, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Gogoi had reserved its verdict on three appeals filed in 2010 by the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court and its Central Public Information officer against the Delhi High Court order that the CJI’s office falls under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Though Delhi High Court ordered the application of the RTI Act for Courts, then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan stayed the operation of the RTI Act in Courts.
In a nutshell, including the most sensitive Judgment in Ayodhya case, many politically and socially sensitive judgments are to be delivered by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on or before his last working day, November 15.
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