Women from several cities assembled to stage demonstrations, marches and shout slogans against the recent judgment giving a clean chit to CJI Ranjan Gogoi in an alleged sexual harassment case. Protesters demanded fair probe into the sexual harassment accusations against the CJI. In Ahmedabad and Bengaluru, few protesters were also detained by the police as the police took them to the nearby police station where they had to stay for over an hour. The bottomline of the protest, irrespective of the allegation and outcome, the procedures adopted must be fair.
Ahmedabad Protest- Three detained
“We had already taken police permission for a peaceful protest against the CJI but when the demonstration began they asked us why we are protesting against CJI Gogoi, it’s not correct but we continued. There were about 200 people who joined in,” said lawyer Jeevika Shiv to SheThePeople.TV adding that the protest started at 5.00p.m. near the Kanoria Centre of Arts and since they had permission till 7.00p.m., they ended it at 6.30p.m. “The moment we were asked to speak to the police, we ended it because we were very clear that we wanted to keep it peaceful. They kept us in the police station for two hours. Then without any charges, we were told that we cannot protest in the name of the CJI but we kept saying that this is for women’s empowerment and justice,” Jeevika added.
The moment we were asked to speak to the police, we ended it because we were very clear that we wanted to keep it peaceful – Protester in Ahmedabad
The other persons detained by the police were journalist Surabhi Vaya, Jeevika and Pragna, who was also protesting.
“The permission was given to them to conduct certain acts towards women empowerment but they started staging the protest. Three persons were initially detained and later let off,” said MN Patel, police inspector, University Police Station to Indian Express.
Bengaluru Protest- 26 detained
In Bengaluru protest as well, around 26 people were detained by the police. The organizers of the protest in Bengaluru, which happened at the Karnataka High Court at 3.30p.m., too tried to seek the permission of the police. As the protest began in front of the HC, the protesters about 100 in number gathered with placards again demonstrating a peaceful protest. They then marched towards the Mysore Bank Circle at around 4.00p.m. where they saw that the police had assembled in “large numbers”.
“They did not even let us stand at Mysore Bank Circle for even 5-10 minutes and quickly rounded up everybody us in what’s called preventive detention for around an hour. They were very careful in the way they treated us as in they did not manhandle us but the detention did happen,” said Madhu Bhushan. She is a women’s rights activist, who was part of the organizing group.
Mumbai Protest- Supreme Injustice
In Mumbai, around 100 people assembled to protest at the Dadar East railway station with placards and banners which had slogans like “Supreme Court Shame Shame”, “Supreme Injustice” and “Release the report of the committee in public domain” etc at5.30p.m.
They did not even let us stand at Mysore Bank Circle for even 5-10 minutes and quickly rounded up everybody us in what’s called preventive detention for around an hour.
“Our protest was against the fact that the Supreme Court’s in-house committee report isn’t being released in public domain. How can someone head the bench in the case where the allegations are against the same person? The survivor should be given a fair chance and the procedure proved as a roadblock for her. Supreme Court should have taken the matter very sensitively and should have followed the Vishakha Guidelines,” said one of the protesters and women’s rights activist, Hasina Khan from Mumbai protest.
Initially, the protests were initially planned in five cities in total, but four cities including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad ended up having protests in designated locations within the cities. Lucknow, which was also supposed to have the protest, will have it at a later date.
Feminists, women’s rights activists, lawyers and journalists gathered at Dharna sthal, allocated protest place in Hyderabad, near Indira Park to register their protest against the clean chit accorded by the in-house committee set up by the Supreme Court to probe into the complaint of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.
Through slogans such as ‘Nyayasthaname, Neram cheste? Nyayam evaru chestharu? (When the Courts themselves commit crimes, who will render justice? . Amalu Cheyyalu, Laingika Vedhimpula Nirodhaka Chattam, Amalu Cheyyali, Amalu Cheyyali (Sexual Harassment Prevention Act and Vishaka Guidelines must be implemented – must be implemented.) Nyayam Cheyyali, Badhita Mahila ki, Nyayam Cheyyali, Nyayam Cheyyali (We want justice for the complainant / woman – we want justice.), the gathered men and women demanded “due process to be followed” in executing the complaint filed. Women also expressed their anger with banners such as “Go Go Gogoi” “Gogoi should step-down” and expressed shock and anguish against the unconstitutional manner in which the said case has been handled so far. The women and men unanimously sloganeered that the Supreme Court should not entertain practice of running “boys’ club” in such matters.
“The Chief Justice of India, in his capacity as supreme judicial authority of this country has blatantly abused his authority and thrown principles of due process, natural justice and fairness to the wind giving himself a ‘clean chit’ through a sham and unlawful process. This is a historic blow to the half a century of feminist activism and the core values of judicial accountability and institutional integrity”, said Meera Sanghamitra a Human Rights activist.
The complaint is against the Chief Justice of India as a person, why is he turning this into an attack on judiciary and unnecessarily distracting the attention from the real charges, said another protester.
“It’s a pathetic situation when highest institutions like SC, including the CJI are denying fair trail. The CJI has to make way for true justice, that is the only way to build confidence in the judiciary system, said K Sajaya, journalist and women’s rights activist
While no one from the gathering of 50-60 women and men were detained, the Telangana police came looking for permission letters from relevant authorities. Once they got the letter, they began to annoyingly shoot the protest at close quarters seemingly to identify women and men who gathered.
The protest ended around 7 pm, with those gathered demanding reopening of the case constituting an independent enquiry committee.
Hyderabad reporting contributed by Malini Subramaniam who shared the above info.