Gogoi’s nomination sets a wrong precedent | HT Editorial
It threatens the independence of the judiciary which is the bedrock of democracy
President Ram Nath Kovind has nominated former Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court (SC), Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha. The nomination, which is meant for eminent personalities who have excelled in their fields and can contribute to national public life, happens as per the advice of the government. But Mr Gogoi’s nomination, just four months after his retirement, has, rightly, sparked concerns.
The entire edifice of constitutional governance rests on separation of powers. The legislature is popularly elected where the sovereignty of the people resides; the executive is accountable to the legislature; and the judiciary is the upholder of the Constitution and, along with its other duties, provides a check against executive excesses, arbitrariness, and unlawful steps. To perform its task, the judiciary has to be entirely, and fiercely, independent — insulated from pressures and inducements.
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To be sure, the Congress, too, has, in various forms, provided positions to SC judges, including, most egregiously, to former CJ Ranganath Mishra — who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha on a party ticket. But just as that was wrong, so is the decision to nominate Mr Gogoi. It undermines the credibility of judgments he had delivered during his tenure. It lends itself to a perception of a quid pro quo. It distorts incentives for judges, who may be tempted at the prospect of post-retirement positions and allow it to influence their decisions — once again, an older trend that gets reinforced with the new decision. It threatens the very principle of an independent judiciary, which is the bedrock of democracy. And it erodes the faith of citizens in the idea of justice.