Chief Justice Of India Sexual Harassment Case: Complainant Withdraws From Panel Probe
The former employee of Supreme Court who had accused Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment said she would no longer participate in the proceedings of the court’s in-house inquiry committee probing her allegations.
The complainant, in a media statement, said she feels that she “is not likely to get justice from this committee. “So, I’m no longer participating in the three-judge committee proceedings.’’
“I was compelled to walk out of the committee proceedings today because the committee seemed not to appreciate the fact that this was not an ordinary complaint but of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI (Chief Justice of India) and therefore it was required to adopt procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances that I am placed,’’ she said in the statement. Also, her request to the committee to seek for call detail records of what she believes are “relevant to the inquiry” were also declined.
The complainant also cited other reasons for her withdrawal:
- I have not been allowed to have the presence of my lawyer/support person despite my impaired hearing, nervousness and fear.
- There being no video or audio recording of the committee proceedings
- I have not been supplied even a copy of my statement as recorded on April 26, 2019 and April 29, 2019.
- I was not informed about the procedure this committee is following.
The accusation surfaced on April 20 after four media outlets published the affidavit that the complainant had sent to judges of the apex court saying she had been subjected to sexual harassment by Justice Gogoi on two separate occasions in October last year.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court held a special hearing on the mention of Tushar Mehta, the solicitor general of India. A three-judge bench presided over the hearing, led by Chief Justice Gogoi and Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjeev Khanna.
Later, Delhi-based lawyer Utsav Bains filed an affidavit claiming that there was a conspiracy to frame Justice Gogoi on sexual harassment. Following which, the top court appointed retired Justice AK Patnaik to inquire Bains’ allegations.
Separately, the Supreme Court set up a three-member in-house inquiry committee comprising Justice SA Bobde, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Gogoi. Justice Malhotra was appointed to the panel after Justice NV Ramana recused himself.