The Supreme Court (Source: PTI)

Indira Jaising Questions Court’s Handling Of Allegations Against Chief Justice

Senior Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising has questioned the manner in which the Supreme Court addressed allegations of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

“Sexual harassment is a very serious matter. Regardless of the fact that he is the Chief Justice of India, the ordinary law of the land must take its course,” Jaising told BloombergQuint. “The woman in question is entitled to due process of law and entitled to be heard. Her version is supported by a sworn affidavit and must be investigated.”

On April 19, an employee of the court sent letters to 22 sitting judges of the Supreme Court detailing her experiences and alleging sexual harassment and victimisation by Chief Justice Gogoi. On Saturday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Gogoi, held a special hearing. In that CJI Gogoi claimed the allegations were a “plot” to “deactivate the office of the CJI” and an attempt the threaten the independence of the judiciary.

Jaising said that she "fails to understand" why a special bench was constituted on a Saturday and why the Chief Justice himself was a part of the bench.

No man can be a judge in his own cause after all. Why he hand picked one of the junior most judges Justice Sanjeev Khana who leapfrogged over 33 judges senior to him? Why were the senior most judges not chosen if at all a Bench was to be constituted today? Why could this not wait till Monday?
Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court

Jaising noted that there is no procedure to enquire into sexual harassment allegations against a Chief Justice and hence the complainant is entitled to demand an impartial high-power investigation. “In my opinion it is in the best interest of the Chief Justice of a India to have the matter impartially investigated by a high power committee. This is needed in interest of maintaining the credibility of the institution as a whole.”

The senior advocate was also perplexed by the role the government had to play in this and why CJI Gogoi was defended by the Attorney General and Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta. “The Chief Justice must be personally represented by a lawyer of his choice,” she said. “In any event now that the Government has defended him so vociferously he should disqualify himself from hearing any cases in which the government has an interest.”

Jaising emphasised that she was not commenting on the truth or otherwise of the allegations. That is for a competent court to decide, she said.

Also read: Chief Justice Of India Faces Sexual Harassment Charges - The Story So Far

Also read: ‘CJI Ranjan Gogoi Sexually Harassed Me’: Former Supreme Court Employee, SC Secretary General’s Office Denies Allegations