The possibility of a conspiracy against former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi cannot be ruled out, the Supreme Court said today. The apex court closed an inquiry instituted after he was accused of sexual harassment.
The Supreme Court said such a conspiracy could be linked to Justice Gogoi’s observations and verdicts, including his views on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and his attempts to streamline the Supreme Court registry — similar to what his predecessor Dipak Misra had tried to do by asserting his right to decide the roster, which other senior judges of the time, including Gogoi, had objected to.
The top court’s decision today is based on the report of former Justice AK Patnaik who was investigating a larger conspiracy behind the allegations against Justice Gogoi and “whether middlemen and fixers working with disgruntled court officials were trying to fix judges”. The inquiry was ordered after lawyer Utsav Bains raised the possibility of a conspiracy in the allegations that surfaced in 2019.
“The Justice Patnaik report acknowledges the existence of a conspiracy against the ex Chief Justice and it cannot be ruled out,” the Supreme Court said, adding that the panel was unable to obtain electronic records. “Certain tough administrative decisions were taken to streamline the process in the registry,” it said.
The court said the Intelligence Bureau director had said in a report that Justice Gogoi had taken a serious view in cases related to National Register of Citizens and there were “strong reasons to believe some are unhappy with the decision”.
Closing the case, the court said: “We are of the view no true purpose would be served. Pleadings are closed and suo motu disposed of. The report be put in sealed cover.”
The judges made it clear that the committee was not set up to inquire into the allegations against the then chief justice but to investigate a larger conspiracy to frame judges.
Because of limited access to records and based on evidence and material, it was not possible to find corroboration for the allegations, the report noted.
“However, in view of the mandate of the order dated 2019 of the Supreme Court, the report opines that it cannot really enter into whether the decisions of the Chief Justice on the judicial side triggered off the conspiracy against him,” the court said.
Utsav Bains, reacting to the order, said it was a vindication of his belief that there was a conspiracy against then Chief Justice Gogoi.