Attorney General KK Venugopal has refused to initiate contempt of court proceedings against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi for his statements against the Supreme Court and Indian judiciary.
Activist Saket Gokhale wrote to the Attorney General seeking contempt of court proceedings after Gogoi said during an event of a leading English news channel that the Indian judiciary is “ramshackled”. In response to Gokhale’s letter, Venugopal replied that he refused to give consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings despite Gogoi making “some very strong statements” about the judiciary and the Supreme Court.
“It is true that Gogoi initially made some very strong statements regarding the judiciary and the Supreme Court of India. The statements apparently reflect his deep frustration with the ills that undoubtedly beset the justice delivery system… I decline consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt under section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act,” Venugopal replied. The Attorney General also wrote that all that was said was “for the good of the institution and will not in any manner scandalize the court or lower its authority in the eyes of the public”.
Here is what Gogoi said during the event. “You want a $5 trillion economy but you have a ramshackled judiciary.” Gogoi also said that if a person were to go to the court, the person would only be “washing your dirty linen” in the court. “You won’t get a verdict. I have no hesitation in saying it,” he added. Gogoi also said that only corporations with lots of money are willing to go the court.
It is shocking that the former Chief Justice made such statements but what is even more surprising is that the Attorney General said it is for the good of the institution. It is quite ironic, that this same Attorney General gave consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against comedian Kunal Kamra, artist Rachita Taneja and Supreme Court Lawyer Prashant Bhushan for criticising the Supreme Court through words, tweets and cartoons.
Saket posted the Attorney General’s reply on social media with a caption stating, “Anyone in the future being charged with contempt of court must use this reasoning as a precedent to challenge the contempt of court law.”