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    ‘Courting the Press’ Not a Requirement of Judiciary – Chief Justice of India

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s current chief justice of the apex court will demit the office on 17 November. Towards the end of his term, Justice Ranjan Gogoi gave several landmark judgements, including in one of the most contentious and long-drawn litigations in India, fought by Hindus and Muslims.

    Ahead of his retirement, Justice Gogoi in a statement expressed his disinclination to interact with media, as has been the practice by many of his predecessors.

    “As a public functionary, entrusted with onerous Constitutional duties to discharge, the idea of courting the press never endeared itself as a choice in the interest of my institution”, said Justice Gogoi in his statement issued on Friday. 

    The top judicial functionary of the country said, “…it is not the requirement of our institution for judges to reach to our citizenry through the press”. He said media outreach could at the most be symbolic of an extraordinary situation demanding an exception to the norm.

    In the same vein, Justice Gogoi also had a word of appreciation for the responsible media.

    “…I do wish to put on record that by and large, the press corps has been kind to my office as well as to our institution during my tenure at the helm of the institution. Even during trying times, when our institution was keeping an ambush or two at bay, most of the press displayed maturity and character and exercised exceptional discretion to prevent canards and falsehood from clogging the news space”, said Justice Gogoi.  

    Justice Gogoi also had a piece of advice for his judge colleagues. He said that the system requires its judges to "maintain" silence, while exercising their freedoms. “This is not to say that judges do not speak. They do speak but do so only out of functional necessity and no more. Bitter truths must remain in memory”.

    In early 2018, four senior judges of the Supreme Court, including Justice Gogoi himself, in an unprecedented move held a press conference to mount a virtual revolt against the then chief justice, listing a series of problems that they claimed were afflicting the country’s highest court.

    Several judgements handed down during the time of Justice Gogoi had by default favoured the present ruling dispensation, the latest being the land dispute case in Ayodhya and the clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the French Rafale deal.

    Justice Gogoi was also dragged into allegations of sexual harassment, after a former employee of the Supreme Court levelled accusations against him. He, however, termed the allegations “false” and an attempt to undermine the judiciary.  

     

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