CJI Gogoi accused of harassment, former court assistant files complaint
A former junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India has accused the current Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of making sexual advances on her at his residence office last year. The 35-year-old woman wrote an affidavit to 22 judges of the apex court in which she said the details of the alleged harassment. She said it took place on October 10 and 11th 2018.
As per the account of the assistant reported by Scroll all details as follows. “He hugged me around the waist, and touched me all over my body with his arms and by pressing his body against mine, and did not let go,” she wrote in the affidavit sent with a covering letter. “He told me ‘hold me’, he did not let go of me despite the fact that I froze and tried to get out of his embrace by stiffening and moving my body away.”
He hugged me around the waist, and touched me all over my body with his arms and by pressing his body against mine – Former employee alleges harassment by CJI Gogoi
She also accused Gogoi of ill-treating her she refused to succumb to his alleged sexual advances. In the affidavit, she sought immediate protection from any “coercive action” by the Delhi police and has made it evident that there is “a grave threat” to her life besides the lives of her family members.
The Secretary General (SG) of the Supreme Court has categorically refuted the claims calling the charges made against Gogoi “completely and absolutely false and scurrilous”. “It is also very possible that there are mischievous forces behind all this, with an intention to malign the institution,” responded the SG to Scroll.
Here’s what we know about this case so far:
- A junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India, on April 19, wrote to 22 judges of the court, she alleges that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi made sexual advances on her
- The Secretary General of the Supreme Court of India sent an email denying the allegations as response to questions sent to the CJI.
- The woman’s affidavit states that after she rebuffed the advances of the CJI, she was dismissed from service.
- The woman suggests she was asked to apologise to Justice Gogoi’s wife, as demanded by her
- The woman has claimed, her disabled brother-in-law, who had been appointed to the Supreme Court on October 9 as a temporary junior court attendant, was served a termination letter on January 14 and no reasons were given.
- The woman in her affidavit, wrote, “I have been victimised for resisting and refusing the unwanted sexual advances of the CJI and my entire family has also been victimised and harassed due to that.”
The woman also mentioned in the affidavit that after she was persecuted by Gogoi, she was moved out of his residence office and two months later she was dismissed. Her dismissal was done on three grounds, one of which was that she had taken a one-day leave without approval, as stated in the inquiry report.
After the woman made the allegations on 19 April, an emergency hearing was called on April 20 by a special bench of the Supreme Court.
“This is unbelievable. I don’t think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations,” the Chief Justice, who was heading the three judge bench, said during the hearing, and added he will not pass any orders and the senior most judge Arun Mishra will dictate the order. He also added that the independence of the judiciary is “under threat” and it “cannot be made a scapegoat”.
“There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate office of Chief Justice,” he alleged a conspiracy behind the allegations, NDTV reported.
It was in the face of this relentless victimisation and intimidation that the junior court assistant had no option but to appeal to the Justices of the Supreme Court – Vrinda Grover
Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover in a Facebook post reacted to the affidavit and the Secretary General’s response to it. She stated how the “criminal anecdotes” mentioned the Secretary General’s response “were filed in 2011, prior to her employment in the Supreme Court and these were filed on complaints of a neighbour with whom the Junior Court Assistant had a quarrel and a misunderstanding”. “The junior court assistant and her family too filed a complaints against this neighbour including for verbal abuse. Due to the minor nature of the dispute, the differences were resolved and the matter was mutually settled through a settlement deed where both parties agreed to drop the cases against each other. One of the F.I.R’s was compounded and another has been quashed in 2016 itself,” she added.
She further noted, “It was in the face of this relentless victimisation and intimidation that the junior court assistant had no option but to appeal to the Justices of the Supreme Court, in order to save herself and her family, while she earlier did not have the courage to speak out about the complete facts of sexual harassment.”