Dibrugarh offered a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle and we grew up in a milieu with a consistent feel-good ambience. My greatest satisfaction as a Lawyer was, help I could render to my Father outside Court when he had faced a disqualification under Tenth Schedule in 1994. P.K. Goswami, Senior Advocate, represented my Father. Amitava Roy [Retired Judge of Supreme Court] and Hrishikesh Roy [Present Judge of Supreme Court] assisted.
My transfer to Punjab and Haryana High Court was on basis of a ‘Horizontal Transfer Policy’ CJI S.H. Kapadia had thought fit to introduce. Justice Arun Mishra and I were First Two Judges who came to be transferred under ‘Horizontal Transfer Policy’. Justice Mishra was transferred from Madhya Pradesh High Court to Rajasthan High Court to eventually become Chief Justice.
To me, personally, my appointment as a Supreme Court Judge was fulfillment of a promise I made to myself way back in 1978 when I had returned to Assam from Delhi after completion of my studies at Delhi Law Faculty. My elevation is worthy of mention for certain other reasons. Justice Kabir’s visit to Chandigarh was a step which was initiated by Justice Kapadia to satisfy all members of Collegium, I had recovered from illness and was fit to discharge my duties. Ironically, I was not even aware of ‘real’ purpose of Justice Kabir’s visit to Chandigarh and did not either receive or see him off at Airport.
One of my earliest Judgments, in Pranab Mukherjee’s Election, was a Dissenting Judgment. I believe, ordinarily differences of opinion amongst Judges should not arise unless, of course, Majority on Bench fails to see what is obvious.
Very interestingly, after I was appointed to Supreme Court in April, 2021 as many as 16 Supreme Court Judges appointed after me [up to May 13, 2016] are/were Senior to me as High Court Judges. I have compiled a list.
Our Judgment, dated September 15, 2016, is reported in (2016) 16 SCC 295. Markandey Katju, Retired Judge of Supreme Court, posted, it was flawed.
But he went on to say more. Bench accepted an apology. After my elevation as CJI, Markandey Katju started posting tweets containing nasty, factually incorrect and undignified comments about me as a person and my role as CJI. He became extremely vocal after my retirement. UK Court had an observation.
“Do I need to say anything more?“
I entered Collegium of Supreme Court a day after my 62nd Birthday. Justice Kureshi continues to be eligible for Supreme Court until March, 2022. Press, at times, plays a role as Collegium decisions do not enter public domain. I have noticed, out of few names which were not cleared by Collegium of Supreme Court for appointment as Delhi High Court Judges during my tenure a CJI, some have become prolific anti-establishment writers, violently criticizing Supreme Court. “What a pity!“
The ‘infamous’ Press Conference was also attended by Senior Advocate, Indira Jaising. I suspect to this day, it is my answer to her question which brought Sanjay Hegde, Senior Advocate, to my residence a few days later. He had come to meet me in connection with Third Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture. I am also reminded of Justice P.D. Desai Memorial Lecture and Justice G.P. Singh Memorial Lecture.
As time progressed, speculation became rife about my chances of becoming CJI. It was speculated, my sympathies were with Congress.
I had become 46th CJI. I had not heard of or had any occasion to read Live Law and Bar and Bench, et cetera. It was an altogether different world I had stepped into, on and from October 3, 2018. A reputation built over nearly 45 years was sought to be destroyed. The findings and conclusions of Bobde Committee have attained finality in law. What price did I pay for all these happenings? Many of my ‘friends’ and ‘well-wishers’ disappeared.
The higher you go in life, more ill people will speak of you. So long as you believe, what you are doing is right, there is nothing to worry. I have lived and conducted myself as I have been moulded by divinity.
– Former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice For The Judge – An Autobiography, (Rupa, 2021).