Just two days after former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Modi regime, The Wire reports that his older brother Anjan has also been an alleged beneficiary of the center’s generosity.
Anjan Gogoi, who retired in February 2013 as Air Officer, Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Command, Gandhinagar, was in January nominated as a full-time member of the North East Council (NEC). The NEC falls under the Department of North East Region (DoNER) Ministry and works for economic and social development of the north-eastern states.
The NEC was established in 1972. Earlier the DoNER Minister used to be its chairman and other members included governors, chief ministers and Members of Parliament (MP) from north-eastern states. The President nominates two members who have a term of three years that can be extended by two more years by the central government. After restructuring in 2018, the Union Home Minister is now the NEC chairman, while the DoNER minister is its vice-chairman. The NEC secretariat is located in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.
While it is noteworthy that Anjan Gogoi is a decorated officer with Param Bishisth Sewa Medal (2012), Ati Bishisth Sewa Medal (2005) and Vishisth Sewa Medal (2002) to his credit, he has allegedly no experience connected with the work done by the NEC. This has given rise to speculation that his nomination was possibly the result of an alleged quid pro quo deal with his brother Ranjan Gogoi.
As CJI Ranjan Gogoi was at the helm of many allegedly controversial cases in the Supreme Court. He not only declined pleas for further investigations in the Rafale deal and the death of Judge Loya, Gogoi was also overseeing the case regarding the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in his home state of Assam. He allegedly held many controversial views about alleged illegal migrants and ‘foreigners’ in Assam prompting activist Harsh Mander to demand he recuse himself from a case regarding the pitiable condition of inmates in detention camps. At a previous hearing in the case while responding to the affidavit filed by Assam Chief Secretary Alok Kumar, Gogoi had allegedly remarked, “You have no right to continue in office after authoring such an affidavit… This court will not be party to such an unheard of arrangement… You have 900 detainees when lakhs of illegal foreigners have already intermingled with the local population. Most of these foreigners are in the voters’ list and are taking part in the political system of this country.” But Gogoi refused to recuse himself and instead removed Mander as a petitioner from the case!
Ranjan Gogoi also headed the SC bench that handed the land in Ayodhya to the infant deity and the akhara, and asked the state to provide separate land for construction of a mosque. In fact, he had allegedly put Kashmir related hearings on hold to prioritise the Ayodhya hearing. He had also dodged a ‘Me Too’ bullet when an in-house panel gave him a clean chit in a matter related to sexual harassment.
But while there has been widespread outrage with respect to his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, people in his home state of Assam see this as a step down the pecking order. As per precedence protocol, as CJI Gogoi was ranked higher at number 6 than the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha who ranks 10th. But now, as an RS MP, Gogoi ranks lower, coming in at number 21. However, Table of Precedence is meant for State and Ceremonial occasions and has no application in the day-to-day business of Government.
Assam Public Works president Abhijeet Sharma told reporters at a press briefing in Guwahati, “Ranjan Gogoi has diminished his position by accepting to become the nominated member of Rajya Sabha. It is like a retired principal joining as a clerk in the same college.”
A member of the Asom Jatiyabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) who chose to remain anonymous told SabrangIndia, “When people of Assam are feeling antagonised over BJP policy over CAA-NRC, by accepting the government nomination to Rajya Sabha Gogoi has hurt the sentiments of the people of Assam.”