The Supreme Court bench today issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a petition filed by a former Additional District and Sessions judge seeking reinstatement in service. The judge had alleged sexual harassment by a retired MP High Court judge after which the bar council had transferred her.

In her petition to the apex court, the former Additional District and Sessions judge seeks reinstatement in her job. Senior lawyer Indira Jaising appeared for the woman petitioner in the court. Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan formed the Supreme Court bench and they have issued a notice returnable in six weeks.

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The woman judge had quit after she was transferred. She also issued an impeachment motion against the MP HC judge after which a Rajya Sabha-constituted committee concluded that the charges against the accused judge could not materialize. This led to dropping of the impeachment motion too.

In March 2015, more than 50 members of the Rajya Sabha signed a motion, calling for impeachment of the judge on grounds of sexual harassment of the woman district judge.

A committee was set up comprising sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice R Banumathi, former Chief Justice of the Calcutta and Bombay High Courts, Justice Manjula Chellur, and Senior Advocate KK Venugopal. It analysed the allegations and found that the charges against the High Court judge could not be proved.

The findings were based on witness accounts and video recordings provided by the respondent judges, as well as the delay in reporting of the incidents, to conclude that the charges of sexual harassment could not be proved.

The committee held, “The allegations levelled by the complainant against the respondent judge are very grave. We do accept that fear of hierarchy exists in the system. But the delay in raising the issue of allegations of sexual harassment raises serious doubts in our mind.”

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