Yusuf Ansari, twocircles.net
Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) who gave his majority opinion over the construction of Ram Mandir over disputed Ayodhya land as “lawful” has been nominated for Rajya Sabha by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This appointment of Ranjan Gogoi will mark his debut as a politician, replacing lawyer KTS Tulsi. Modi has sent the entire political environment of the country into a major shock and dismay by nominating Gogoi. In addition to the frenzy, questions are being raised from all corners. While AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi has posed the serious questions over this nomination, Yashwant Sinha (former Union Minister and BJP leader) has clearly said that if Gogoi does not have the “good sense to say NO, he will cause incalculable damage to the reputation of the judiciary.”
Ranjan Gogoi is not the first retired CJI to have been nominated to Rajya Sabha. Mohammad Hidayatullah, the sixth Vice President of India from August 1979 to August 1984 was also a retIred CJI to have been appointed to the seat. Even his appointment had raised several eyebrows in the Parliament. Even Rangnath Mishra during his tenure as CJI was accused of giving a clean chit to Congress in the 1984 Sikh riots through his inquiry commission, of which he was the sole member. Congress politician Randeep Surjewala has also questioned the decision by saying that Modi’s message is clear through this appointment that one can either be on their side or disagree and bear the brunt of transfers leading to resignation.
It was however clear from Gogoi’s majority opinion in the Ayodhya case that his next destination is Rajya Sabha. And why would it not be clear, after all, he had received blessings from Ram Lalla by supporting his side on the dispute. Ram Lalla has been showering similar blessings on people who lay hands in breaking the Babri Masjid from stone to stone and cleared the way for Ram Temple at the site – starting from former DM of Faizabad to the Judge who opened the locks of the disputed site to DSP of Faizabad who helped demolish the Babri Masjid in his tenure. All of them have made it to the Parliament, thanks to the blessings of Ram Lalla.
K K Nair who was the DM of Faizabad on June 1, 1949, was originally from Aleppo in Kerala who passed out in the ICS Batch of 1930. It was in his posting as the Zila Officer that idols were smuggled inside the Babri Masjid. The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru had twice directed officials to remove the idols from the Masjid premise but Nair, giving the reason for not to hurt religious sentiments of people, refused to do so. When Nehru asked for the second time for the removal of idols, Nair wrote to the Union Government that before removing idols, one must remove him. Keeping the religious sentiments and secular atmosphere of the country, the Government-backed off from taking any further action. The Babri Masjid-Ayodhya Ram Mandir Dispute was one of the turning points in the course of India’s history that had far-reaching consequences in the socio-politics of the country.
In 1952, Nair took voluntary retirement. For the 4th Lok Sabha elections, Nair then reached the Parliament through Jan Sangh seat at UP’s Bahraich. During this while, Nair became a highly symbolic Hindutva figure. It was also the same time when his wife Shakuntala Nair got into politics and won the Kaiserganj seat thrice through a Jan Sangh ticket. Even Nair’s driver became a member of the UP Assembly.
The next contention Nair was faced with was to get the locks of the Masjid complex open. It was the then-District Magistrate of Faizabad, KM Pandey on whose instructions the locks were broken open in February 1986. Although he wasn’t blessed to reach Parliament but he definitely did enjoy a small portion of the blessing by becoming the High Court Judge. This is another interesting story. Looking at the state of affairs, Pandey was recommended for the post but from 1988 to 1991, this appointment was not made. His promotion kept hanging in between until in September 1990, the VHP Bar Association General Secretary, Hari Shankar Jain filed a petition to the Allahabad High Court for promoting Pandey as the Judge. 10 other lawyers had supported this petition.
In the petition, it was clearly stated that the then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh had written an objection note against making Pandey the Judge. The original words of Mulayam Singh in the note read as “Even though Pandey Ji is an honest and diligent judge, his instruction of breaking open the locks of the Masjid in 1986 created communal tensions in the area and this is the reason I would not recommend his name for the High Court Judge.”
V P Singh was the Prime Minister then. The petition was still pending when the Government changed. Chandra Shekhar now took over as PM of India and Subramanian Swamy became the Law Minister. Swamy, in his tenure, gave the final nod for Pandey to become the High Court Judge of Allahabad High Court and he took over the post on January 24, 1991. Within a year, Pandey was transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court where he served till 1994 until his retirement. This is how Pandey was also rewarded by Ram Lalla’s blessings for breaking open the locks of the Masjid decades back.
The next step in Babri Masjid-Ayodhya Ram Mandir Dispute was on December 6, 1992, when the SSP of Faizabad was D B Ray. He was accused of negligence in his duty while the Babri Masjid was being demolished by the mob of ministers and Hindutva leaders. Ray was immediately removed from duty but was later rewarded by BJP ticket twice after his retirement from service. In 1996, Ray contested the Lok Sabha seat from Sultanpur and then in 1998, he won from the same seat. He is credited with sharing his roles of bravery and courage in the Babri Masjid demolition.
That is another story that D B Ray later got disillusioned with BJP and wrote a book where he put serious allegations on BJP leaders for their role in demolishing the Babri Masjid. In 2007 at the launch of his book, ‘Ayodhya: The Truth of December 6’, he accused BJP and VHP leaders as being “even bigger iconoclasts than foreign invaders Mahmud Gazni and Aurangzeb.” He added that these leaders, in the pretext of collecting money for the Ram Mandir are actually using it in a lavish lifestyle marked by the greatest worldly luxuries. Ray also went on saying on record that these were the people who asked for people to donate gold for the construction of a golden Ram statue but later used the donated gold to make gold biscuits and coins.
This is how from the start till now, everyone who supports the VHP and Hindutva ideologues in the Babri Masjid-Ayodhya Ram Mandir Dispute has been reaping favors from the Governments. It now remains on Ex-CJI Gogoi to either accept the offer of the Rajya Sabha seat or reject it.