Hearing on Sexual Harassment Case against CJI Ranjan Gogoi by Justice Bobde committee on Friday
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 24 Apr 2019

Hearing on Sexual Harassment Case against CJI Ranjan Gogoi

by Justice Bobde committee on Friday

 

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, April 24, 2019: The first hearing by the Justice SA Bobde committee, appointed to conduct an in-house inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will be conducted on Friday. The Supreme Court secretary-general has been asked to be ready with all documents and materials.

On Tuesday, Justice SA Bobde, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was appointed to conduct an in-house inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Justice Bobde, who is next to the Chief Justice in seniority, confirmed has formed a panel by inducting two apex court judges -- Justice NV Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee. “I decided to have Justice Ramana in the panel as he is next to me in the seniority and Justice Banerjee as she is a woman judge,” Justice Bobde said to a news agency.

The former Supreme Court staffer had leveled the allegations against the Chief Justice which was brought into the public domain by some news web portals on April 20. The woman had worked at Chief Justice Gogoi’s home office in Delhi and the allegations were carried by a number of news portals based on her affidavit.

In her affidavit, the woman described two incidents of alleged molestation, days after Justice Gogoi was appointed Chief Justice last October and her subsequent persecution.

The woman alleged that she was removed from service after she rebuffed his “sexual advances”. She claimed that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables, were suspended for a 2012 criminal case that had been mutually resolved.

It was the Supreme Court that had given the country the Vishakha guidelines on the basis of which the law against sexual harassment in the workplace was based.

According to sources, a notice has already been issued to the woman who had written letters to the judges and sworn on affidavit about the alleged sexual harassment.

On last Saturday, a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice had held an unprecedented hearing in the wake of allegations.

Describing the allegations of sexual harassment against him as “unbelievable”, the Chief Justice Gogoi said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop so low even to deny these allegations. He had said some “bigger force” wanted to “deactivate” the office of the Chief Justice of India.

The Supreme Court said it is leaving it to the “wisdom of media” to show restraint and act responsibly so that independence of judiciary is not affected. The court, however, decided not to issue any gag order.

After Saturday’s hearing, some lawyers and jurists had criticised the Chief Justice for constituting the bench comprising him, though he recused himself in the middle of the hearing leaving it for Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna to pass the order.

On Tuesday, the Chief Justice set up a fresh bench comprising Justices Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta to adjudicate the matter relating to sexual harassment allegation.

“This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding,” Justice Bobde has said.

He clarified that there is no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on “what comes out of the inquiry” which will be “confidential”. 

Has the case of Sexual Harassment accusing the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi been leveled with a malafide intention to malign the image of Justice Gogoi and create psychological pressure on him in delivering verdict in some politically sensitive cases? This question arises because the lady who has accused the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India of Sexual Harassment has several criminal cases against her.

Here are the details of criminal cases against the lady who has accused the CJI:

(A) FIR No. 484/11, P.S. Hari Nagar u/s 324, 341, 354, 506, 34 IPC;

(B) DD No. 30A dated 05.03.2012 u/s 107/150, IPC, P.S. Hari Nagar, SEM Court, Moti Nagar.

(C) Complaint-of bribery in TilakMarg Police Station

Even though her conduct in the past may not be the adequate ground for disbelieving her story, her conduct in the immediate past raises reasonable suspicion as to her credibility:

The following are the inferences drawn from her affidavit:

A. The alleged incident of harassment happened on October 11,2018.

B. On November 19, 2018, she was issued a memorandum that a disciplinary enquiry was being initiated against her which came as a “total shocker “to her. The charges did not hold weight-of being “absent from duty” and “disregarding her seniors”.

C. Without giving her a proper hearing, on December 21, 2018, she was dismissed from service by Registrar Deepak Jain after the enquiry committee conducted ex parte proceedings and found her guilty.

D. A week after she was dismissed, her husband and one of her brother-in-law also a constable in Delhi Police- were also suspended from service on December 29, 2018. The reason was not specified at that time.

On January 8, 2019, the husband received an order from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Vikas Puri. The order, according to her affidavit, stated, that the husband and his brother had “links with local gamblers and that he had approached SHO, Tilak Nagar, to allow satta activities of one person against whom a criminal case was already registered in PS Tilak Nagar.”

E. Thought she wanted to meet Ranjan Gogoi for a “rapprochement “, the Chief Justice wad “not available “.

F. Meanwhile, her younger brother-in-law, who was appointed as junior court attendant was also dismissed from his service. His termination letter, attached with the affidavit, does not specify any reason.

G. On March 8 last, a Delhi Police team knocked on her door to take her into custody. According to the affidavit, when on March 9 last, she and her family went to Tilak Marg Police Station in Delhi, they were informed that one Naveen Kumar of Jhajjar, Haryana, had charged them with bribery. The FIR says that Kumar paid her Rs 50,000 for job in Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a group of prominent civil liberty activists, including Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy, has sought an independent probe into the sexual harassment charge against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, pleading that otherwise; public confidence in the credibility of the judiciary will be severely eroded.

The following are excerpts from the joint statement: “The charges are prima facie serious enough to warrant an independent inquiry by a high-level independent committee….

“The act of the Chief Justice of India to constitute a special bench headed by himself to hear this issue on the judicial side, rather than constituting a credible and independent inquiry committee, goes against all just and settled principles of law.

“In the hearing, one-sided allegations were made by the Chief Justice and senior most law officers of the government. This is unbecoming of a judicial proceeding, especially one where the complainant in a sexual harassment case is absent….

“We… call upon all the judges of the Supreme Court to ensure that an independent and credible inquiry committee comprising senior retired judges and eminent members of civil society, headed by a woman, is immediately set up to inquire into this complaint.

“It is imperative that the complainant be granted protection…

“In the meantime, since many of the witnesses named by the complainant are officials of the Supreme Court registry, it is incumbent on the Chief Justice to refrain from exercising any administrative powers during the course of the inquiry….”

AASU backs CJI

In Assam, the Gauhati High Court Bar Association and the All Assam Students’ Union have condemned the allegations of sexual assault levelled against the CJI.

“This is a deep and abominable conspiracy and an attack on the judiciary. Along with the people of the Northeast, the entire country is proud of the Chief Justice of India. He is our pride,” said AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya. Image Credit - PTI 

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(Onkareshwar Pandey is Founder, Editor in Chief & CEO, Indian Observer Post and former Senior Group Editor- Rashtriya Sahara (Hindi & Urdu) and also former Editor, (News), ANI. http://bit.ly/2mh7hih Email - SMS- 9910150119)


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