Justice Ranjan Gogoi: India needs independent journalists and pro-active judiciary

Supreme court Judge Ranjan Gogoi 

Justice Ranjan Gogoi while delivering the third Ramnath Goenka Memorial lecture stressed on the need for an active judiciary, fearless and independent media in a healthy democracy

The second most senior judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Ranjan Gogoi emphasised the importance of judiciary and media in a democracy. He was delivering the third Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture on “The Vision of Justice” at Teen Murti Bhavan auditorium in New Delhi on Thursday.

Addressing the packed auditorium he quoted from an article from the economist and said, “…independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence. Reports of the death of democracy are greatly exaggerated. But the least bad system of government ever devised, is in trouble. It needs defenders.”

“I agree, but will only suggest a slight modification in today’s context — not only independent judges and noisy journalists, but even independent journalists and sometimes noisy judges,” he added.

Justice Gogoi was one of the four Supreme Court judges had held a press conference in an unprecedented move to make public the letter they had written to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in November, raising questions on various issues pertaining to the functioning of the court, particularly allocation of cases. Thde other three judges were Justices J Chelameswar (now retired), Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph

Justice Gogoi went on to say that judiciary is the “last bastion of hope” and it should remain “uncontaminated”. While stressing on the need for the judiciary to be pro active to preserve the moral and institutional freedom and space, he said that if it is imperative to introspect for this, then the judiciary should do that, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So is an institution. And if introspection is where we have to begin, we might as well begin there. Perhaps, we can hope and endeavour that in the future, it is not our finality, but really the infallibility that should define us,”

The chief justice quoted from Aristotle, Carl Jung and Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of America and presented a comprehensive vision of justice. He said that judiciary is endowed with a “great societal trust” in India and this is what gives it credibility and legitimacy.

Commenting on the judiciary today, he said, it “is not a poor workman who blames his tools but it is a workman with no tools.” He said: “.in the light of what a French author had once said, ‘Everything has been said already, but as no one listens, we must begin again,’ I will only ask and request those at the helm to finally listen so that we must not have to begin again.”

Justice Gogoi cited a few cases to underline the importance of enduring Constitutional morality over “fickle” social morality. He also threw light on the Supreme Court’s journey and said that the apex court has been ‘evolving’ and has now become kind of ‘a good governance court’ by innovatively interpreting the constitutional provisions to deal with the inadequacies due to executive and legislative inactivity.

Justice Gogoi was one of the four Supreme Court judges had held a press conference in an unprecedented move to make public the letter they had written to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in November, raising questions on various issues pertaining to the functioning of the court, particularly allocation of cases. The other three judges were Justices J Chelameswar (now retired), Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

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