Justice Ranjan Gogoi was on Wednesday sworn in as the Chief Justice of India, becoming the first chief of the apex court from the northeast. He was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh, H.D. Deve Gowda, along with Leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha Malikarjun Kharge were also present. Justice Gogoi is nation’s 46th Chief Justice succeeding Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who demitted office on October 2. He will be in office for 13 months and 15 days till November 17, 2019, when he will turn 65.
Significantly, Justice Gogoi is one of the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, who had risen in revolt against Justice Misra in January when they held a press conference criticising him on constitution of benches. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, former AG Mukul Rohatgi, eminent jurist Fali Nariman, Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh were also present on the occasion.
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 February 28, 2001. He was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 9, 2010 and became its Chief Justice on February 12, 2011. He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.
With just a little over a year at the helm, Justice Gogoi’s hands are full with pressing matters like Ayodhya, appointment of Lokpal, setting up of more fast track courts to try lawmakers facing criminal cases involving heinous crimes and other issues. Justice Gogoi has set the task of addressing the issue of the huge backlog of cases that is plaguing the justice delivery system which he had said was threatening its credibility including its relevance.
With over 2.6 crore cases pending and with every fourth position in subordinate judiciary and nearly half of the High Court posts vacant — the task set by the Chief Justice is a mammoth one. He had earlier said that he has the plan to address the issue which would unfold in due course. Speaking at a seminar last week, Chief Justice Gogoi said: “Pendency is bringing a lot of disrepute. In fact, if I may say so, it has the potential of making the system irrelevant” and “I have a plan and will unfold it.”