Ranjan Gogoi retired as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on Sunday after serving a tenure of a little over 13 months. Replacing Gogoi, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde took oath as the 47th Chief Justice of India on Monday.
Gogoi, the first chief justice from northeast India, will always be remembered in the legal annals of the country for presiding over a raft of critical verdicts, including the Ayodhya verdict on November 9.
While Gogoi has indeed ended his term with a bang with the judgement on debatably the most important case in independent India's history, the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, here's a look at other key verdicts which the SC delivered right before Gogoi's retirement:
Clean chit to Modi government in Rafale case
The Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the Modi government on the purchase of 36 fully loaded Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation, rejecting the plea for registration of an FIR by the CBI for alleged commission of the cognisable offence in the deal.
The apex court dismissed the pleas seeking review of the December 14, 2018 verdict in which it had said that there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
The review petition, jointly filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, former Union Ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, had sought an investigation into the Rafale deal on the basis of secret “stolen documents”. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, on the other hand, had sought a dismissal of the review petitions.
"We find the review petitions are without any merit," said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
The apex court decided to set up a larger bench to re-examine religious issues including those arising out of its 2018 verdict that lifted a centuries-old ban on women of menstruating age visiting the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
As many as 65 petitions were filed questioning the authority of the court to intervene in the matter which involves a “centuries-old” belief that the Sabarimala deity is a “Naishtika Brahmachari”.
Sabarimala review petitions will remain pending until the issue is decided by the larger bench.
Contempt case against Rahul Gandhi
The Supreme Court closed the contempt plea against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the apex court his "chowkidar chor hai" remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the Rafale case.
The court said the remarks made by Gandhi were far from true and he should have refrained from those and could have been careful.
"It is unfortunate that without any verification certain remarks were made by the contemnor (Rahul Gandhi) against the prime minister," a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
The bench referred to the affidavit filed by him tendering unconditional apology and said, "Gandhi enjoys an important position in the political spectrum and no court should be dragged to political discourse, whether valid or invalid".
"Mr. Gandhi needs to be more careful in future," the bench added.
A criminal contempt plea was filed by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi against former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for attributing the “ chowkidaar chor hai” remark to the apex court. The constitutional validity of Finance Act 2017
The Supreme Court struck down in entirety the rules framed under Section 184 of the Finance Act, 2017 and ordered the central government to reframe the rules. Further, the court has referred the plea challenging the constitutional validity of classifying the Finance Act, 2017 as a money bill to a larger bench.
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to redraft the rules governing the appointment of appellate Tribunal judges. It has also directed the law ministry to conduct a judicial impact assessment of merger of tribunals.
In April, a bench led by Gogoi had reserved its judgement on a number of petitions that challenged the Constitutional validity of the Finance Act 2017 arguing that it was passed by Parliament as a money bill.
One of the pleas alleged that the Centre was taking over the rights to decide the terms and conditions of tribunal members.
The Centre, however, had contended that the Finance Act 2017 was referred to as a money bill as it had provisions to deal with salaries and allowance to be paid to members of all tribunals.
CJI office falls under RTI
Observing that judicial independence and accountability go hand in hand, the Supreme Court held that the office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority and falls within the purview of the Right to Information(RTI) Act.
Pronouncing a landmark verdict, the apex court at the same time said transparency cannot be allowed to run to its absolute and that RTI Act should not be used as a surveillance tool. It also observed there should be a balance between right to privacy and right to information and they have to be treated as "co-equals"
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Gogoi unanimously upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court judgement and dismissed three appeals filed by Secretary-General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer (CPIO) of the top court.
(Inputs from PTI)