The Court of Chief Justice of India: Justice Ranjan Gogoi's first week

Murali Krishnan October 8 2018
supreme court registry

The Court of Chief Justice of India is, without doubt, the most happening court in the Supreme Court, more so on Mondays and Fridays when a large number of cases are listed for admission.

Large queues many times extend outside into the corridors during the mentioning of matters before CJI, mostly for urgent listing.

The functioning of the court of CJI is, however, very judge-centric and to a large extent depends on the CJI who presides the Bench. Hence, while Late CJI Altamas Kabir was indulgent of mentioning, CJI Lodha was a tough nut to crack. CJI HL Dattu was also not so considerate when it came to mentioning. CJI TS Thakur was, however, the other extreme and used to spend close to 45 minutes listening to mentioning.

In this context, the newly appointed CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s treatment of mentioning might soon be a case study. He took over from Dipak Misra J. on October 3. While CJI Misra was indulgent when it came to mentioning, and even ensured that matters were mentioned by junior lawyers and AoRs, CJI Gogoi made his intentions clear the very first day. He stated that mentioning would be allowed only for urgent matters for the time being before proceeding to hear listed matters.

He was also strict during the hearing. One advocate was refused a Passover.

"No pass over, argue your case."

Another lawyer who was a petitioner-in-person had his gown on him while arguing, prompting Gogoi J. to remark,

"How can you be in gown when you are petitioner-in-person. We should dismiss this case on that ground."

The crowd inside CJI court has visibly become thinner as Gogoi J. continues to take a tough stance on mentioning.

Today’s mentioning witnessed some tough remarks by the CJI. When a lawyer mentioned a matter for urgent listing immediately after curing defects, Gogoi J.  said that the Registry should also be given some time.

"Give Registry a chance, the moment defect is cleared you want it the very next day", remarked Gogoi and turned down the request.

Another request was made for urgent listing with the lawyer stating that the house belonging to his client would be demolished pursuant to an order of the High Court.

"When was the High court order passed", Gogoi J. queried.

"July 16", replied the lawyer.

The CJI promptly turned it down remarking,

"You come here after 3 months, declined."

The opinion at the Bar is divided over the stance of the new CJI. While some lawyers believe that it will help curb Senior Advocates bullying the court into listening to their cases, others are of the opinion that the CJI needs to take the Bar along. However, with Gogoi J., one thing is for certain – seniors and juniors would get the same treatment, good or bad.

And if the Court does evolve guidelines and render mentioning redundant, Chief Justice Gogoi’s court would certainly not be forgotten and for the good.