NEW DELHI: The nomination of ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha has drawn sharp criticism from several former judges, including Kurian Joseph, who said taking up post-retirement positions "demeans" the independence of judiciary.
Joseph, who along with Gogoi and two other senior judges J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur (all now retired), held an unprecedented presser on January 12, 2018 questioning the functioning of the apex court under the then CJI, said that Gogoi has "compromised the noble principles" of independence and impartiality of judiciary.
"According to me, the acceptance of nomination as member of Rajya Sabha by a former CJI, has certainly shaken the confidence of the common man on the independence of judiciary, which is also one of the basic structures of the Constitution of India," the former apex court judge said.
Referring to the press conference, Justice Joseph said he, along with the other three judges, had come out in public in an "unprecedented move", "to tell the nation that there was a threat to this foundation and now I feel the threat is at large."
Recalling the statement made by Justice Gogoi in the presser, he expressed surprise as to how the ex-CJI accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination.
"'We have discharged our debt to the nation' was the statement made by Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with the three of us on January 12, 2018.
"I am surprised as to how Justice Ranjan Gogoi who once exhibited such courage of conviction to uphold the independence of judiciary, has compromised the noble principles on the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary," Justice Joseph said.
Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice A P Shah and retired HC judge R S Sodhi also reacted sharply to Gogoi's nomination by the government.
Justice Sodhi said that a judge should never retire or accept post-retirement positions at all.
"I have always been of the opinion that judges should not accept post-retirement jobs at all.
Judges must be strong enough to resist any temptation of compromising their independence that is led by anyone in authority that can demean the independence of judiciary," he said.
He said that the only solution to judges accepting post-retirement jobs is integrity of the judges.
"The solution is your own integrity. A judge should never retire. There is no question of accepting post retiral benefit," Justice Sodhi said.
Justice Shah, who is also former chairman of the Law Commission of India, in an interview to a web-site reportedly said the nomination of Justice Gogoi to Rajya Sabha was a "clear quid pro quo".
Joseph said that he had decided not to take up any posts after retirement.
Former apex court judge Madan B Lokur said that he will express his views once Gogoi speaks to the media in detail about accepting the offer of a seat to the Upper House.
There has been a debate in political circles and other quarters on the nomination of Gogoi, who had retired in November last year as the CJI after serving for about 13 months.
Gogoi, who headed benches that pronounced several key judgements including in the sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, was on Monday nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the government.