NEW DELHI: Justice Ranjan Gogoi, one of the four senior Supreme Court judges who participated in an unprecedented presser against the country’s chief justice over “selective” case allocation, has backed the need for “sometimes noisy judges and independent journalists” to defend democracy.
Justice Gogoi, who is the seniormost judge in the apex court after Chief Justice Dipak Misra and in line to become the next CJI, on Thursday, called for the judiciary to “be on the front foot” adding the SC needs a revolution not a reform.
He was addressing a lecture organised by a media group. Referring to an article in a foreign magazine, he highlighted how it said independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy’s first line of defence
“Democracy 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,” the judge said in front of a crowd that included among others four SC judges and several senior advocates.
The judge stressed on the need for the judiciary, more so the SC to “preserve its moral and institutional leverage.” He said “for that to happen, it must remain uncontaminated and independent. And, fierce. And, at all times. 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.”
In his lecture the judge kept returning to the need to be “fiercely independent” as a judge and recalled what US jurist Alexander Hamilton had cautioned.
“He had said while the civil liberties will have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, they will have everything to fear from the union of the judiciary with either of the other two branches,” the judge observed, pointing out that “fierce independence is indeed the bedrock of justice.”
However Justice Gogoi was quick to add “independence” must always be responsible with due regard to established Constitutional values.