Attorney General KK Venugopal has refused to grant sanction to activist Saket Gokhale to initiate contempt of court case against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for his statements against the judiciary and the Supreme Court.
Gokhale had sought AG Venugopal’s sanction to initiate contempt proceedings against Justice Gogoi for his remarks made at an India Today event that Indian judiciary is “ramshackled” and it is unlikely for a person to get a verdict from courts on time.
The AG said that while Justice Gogoi’s statements are strong and reflected his frustration with the ills of the judiciary, it was said for the good of the institution and will not scandalise or lower the authority of the judiciary.
“I had the occasion to watch the entirety of the interview. It is obvious that all that has been said was for the good of the institution and will not in any manner scandalise the court or lower its authority in the eyes of the public,” Venugopal said in his response to Gokhale.
Gokhale had written to Venugopal on February 23 seeking his consent for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against Justice Gogoi.
As per Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act and Rule 3 of Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of Supreme Court, the consent of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General is required before the apex court can hear a criminal contempt petition filed by a private individual.
Gokahle had specifically objected to the following statements made by the former CJI:
“You want a 5 trillion dollar economy but you have a ramshackled judiciary.”
“If you were to go to court, you’d only be washing your dirty linen in court. You won’t get a verdict. I have no hesitation in saying it.”
“Only corporations willing to take chances with their millions of rupees go to the Supreme Court.”
“What is your opinion of the judiciary? Not very positive.”
“The judicial system has not worked for more reason than one.”
“Unfortunately, there are many judges succumbing to criticism made in the media.”
In his response to Gokhale, Venugopal conceded that Justice Gogoi has made some very strong statements about the judiciary and the Supreme Court.
“The statements apparently reflect his deep frustration with the ills that undoubtedly beset the justice delivery system,” Venugopal said in his letter.
But it wont scandalise the judiciary or the lower its authority, he added underscoring that it was made for the good of the institution.
“I accordingly decline consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act,” the AG said.