Young members and lawyers are sending snail mail letters with printouts of the Sexual Harassment Act to the judges of Supreme Court via post offices from across India and overseas. Call it Gandhigiri as young members get together to protest the procedures adopted to deal with a sexual harassment case against the Chief Justice of India. This silent protest or campaign is called "May It Please Your Lordships" and is driven by young members in their individual capacity.
The CJI Sexual Harassment Case Story - Gandhigiri at Supreme Court: Lawyers send bulk copies of sexual harassment act to all Judges
The movement is gathering momentum and now young lawyers from outside Universities and bar associations are also joining those from India. What's going in the parcels via post offices, are envelopes with the Bare Act. This act lays down certain procedures to be followed in respect of allegations of sexual harassment at workplaces.
In their first communication, via WhatsApp, the Gandhigiri team said:
‘Independence of Judiciary’ was never envisaged to mean a complete lack of accountability and existence above the law. For an institution which is meant to be the savior of the rights of all citizens and the final interpreter of the Constitution, the judges of the Supreme Court of India have for far too long gotten away with impunity from charges of sexual harassment levelled against them.
For far too long, women of this Country have waited in the hope that the conscience of the judges of the Supreme Court will awaken and they will apply to themselves the law meant for everyone else as well. What they have gotten instead is a cleverly worded, wholly inadequate Regulation (Gender Sensitisation and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Supreme Court of India (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulations, 2013) which, apart from not even contemplating a complaint against the Chief Justice, also conveniently omits from its scope female employees of the Court as well as any harassment which may occur at the official residence of judges (where a majority of their work happens).
According to one of the leads of the campaign, a young female lawyer, people are starting to send pictures of their consignments from the post offices. "Though the campaign is on an individual level and not at an institutional level, I believe it's powerful and now gathering steam," she said in an exclusive conversation with SheThePeople.
The young lawyer, who didn't want to be named in the interest of the campaign not being credited to one single individual but the young lawyer community also added, "While protestors outside the Supreme Court demanding justice for the former Supreme Court staff in the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI Gogoi were being rounded up by the Police, a silent and yet potent protest has become viral especially, among the young members of the Bar and law students. The ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’ is being sealed and dispatched to all the judges of the Supreme Court by numerous people through post offices in the fervent hope that the Lordships get the message. In this saga of the sexual allegations against the CJI, law, process, natural justice, equity and fairness have all been compromised by the Hon’ble judges. This “May it Please Your Lordships” campaign is gathering momentum as a non disruptive yet effective tool to plead to the Hon’ble Justices to apply the same rules to themselves as they do to others."
SheThePeople spoke to another lawyer in the campaign who added, "This isn't a case of whether the allegations (against CJI Ranjan Gogoi) are true or false. The process followed is not fair."
Lawyers leading the movement say the idea came to them over a casual dinner. "We were so enraged with the proceedings to the extent that when one amongst us stood up to say "may be they don't know the procedure, may be they don't know the act" and others responded saying "then let's send them some copies!"
This “May it Please Your Lordships” campaign is gathering momentum as a non disruptive yet effective tool to plead to the Hon’ble Justices to apply the same rules to themselves as they do to others."
The WhatsApp message circulated also added, "Many open letters and statements have been written already, lamenting the absolutely bizarre handling of the situation by the Court thus far. The statement made by the complainant while withdrawing from the so-called inquiry proceedings set up by the Court further make it clear that far from being well versed with the nuances of sexual harassment and power imbalance, the Court has perhaps forgotten the very spirit behind the enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 as well as the Vishaka guidelines. ‘May It Please Your Lordships’ is a small attempt to remind our Hon’ble Judges of the same."
It further said, "We urge all of you to send as many copies as we all can of the bare act to the judges. In the hope that even if Their Lordships are not reading our open letters and statements, one judge reading one copy of the bare act might decide to stand up and save the institution."