Ranjan Gogoi prevented a man from disrupting the Ayodhya case.
‘NEW DELHI: Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on November 9, 2019, the litigation may have been disrupted if an unidentified individual had not been denied entry into the courtroom on October 16, 2019, the day on which it reserved its verdict in the fiercely contested land dispute case involving Ayodhya.
Ex-CJI and Rajya Sabha MP Ranjan Gogoi reveals this hitherto unrevealed incident in his autobiography ‘Justice for the Judge’, published by another former CJI, S A Bobde, who served as a member of the Constitution Bench in Ayodhya land dispute proceedings that lasted for 40 days starting on August 6, 2019. The person is identified in the book as representing one of the litigants. The courthouse was denied entry by Gogoi as he (Justice Gogoi) felt the person was attempting to disrupt the hearing to disrupt the proceedings.
On November 17, 2019, Justice Gogoi retired from the bench.
Ayodhya verdict of the Allahabad High Court from 2010 that divided the plot three ways was challenged in 21 appeals, and the SC considered a large number of intervention applications. According to the author, an adjournment of the case may have been necessary if he had gained entry to the courtroom.
“I will never reveal his identity,” Justice Gogoi told TOI, much like the unanimous Ayodhya verdict in which the name of the judgment author was not revealed.
The person’s name is not mentioned in Justice Gogoi’s book, but he describes the event. After hearing arguments for nearly an hour and a half before the bench, which also includes Justice S A Bobde (who succeeded Justice Gogoi as CJI), A letter from then secretary-general (Sanjeev Kalgaonkar) stating that a representative of one of the litigants wanted to enter the SC, as reported by D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, was received “around 11.30 am or 12 noon” by the CJI Gogoi.
“I wrote the Secretary-General a handwritten reply saying under no circumstances was the person to be admitted. In connection with a lawsuit, a bona fide visitor must always seek permission from his attorney-in-record before visiting the SC. I sensed that this individual’s intention was not to disrupt the hearing, but to disrupt the Registry or Secretary-General,” Justice Gogoi writes.
The proceedings may have been affected, and the case may have been adjourned if he had been able to gain entry into the courtroom, he says. The secretary-general was acting as instructed. Despite that, he adds, the unidentified man persisted in asking for entry into the courtroom.
At the close of the hearing in one of the most fiercely contested cases in Supreme Court history, I concluded, “Enough is enough.” he (the secretary-general) sought further instructions during the lunch recess, according to Justice Gogoi. Having asked him whether he would be able to keep the status quo for another two hours, he replied that he would. The answer was yes. At 2:30, I resumed the hearing, and at about 3:00, I concluded with “enough is enough” and “we reserve our judgment.”
Despite maintaining a calm exterior during the stressful and surcharged arguments lasting months, the Judge says the arguments caused him much internal “stress, anxiety, and trauma”, leading him to twice refuse to appear in court. Having been embarrassed and stressed, he had persuaded his wife Rupanjai to take him to court. Although he was urged to go to court on the second occasion, he refused after reaching the court to “budge from the chamber.” On the second occasion, Justice Bobde cancelled the hearing because of the CJI’s illness.
Judge Gogoi believes it was “possibly to disturb the peace that was required to decide such a case” that the public publications of “negative statements by activists and lawyers” caused the judges to distress during the Ayodhya hearings.
Commentaries about how hard it would be to finish the hearing; statements from activists about the SC’s misplaced priorities and waste of judicial time. Justice Gogoi wrote throughout the Ayodhya hearing, “I didn’t remember sleeping more than 3 to 4 hours a day in the entire period of the hearing. SC’sAdded to that was the fact that the various deadlines for completing the case kept reminding me what was at stake, the consequences for the institution and me, should the case remain unresolved by the time of my retirement.”
“My fellow judges in private conversations also expressed their scepticism. Despite the judgment, he wrote that the case’s eventual conclusion was made possible by divine power. Why this madman would put the reputation of the Supreme Court at risk was the topic of several private discussions.