SC In-House Inquiry Panel Gives Clean Chit To CJI in Sexual Harassment Case
The in-house inquiry panel, comprising of Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, have found no substance in allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in the sexual harassment case filed by his former junior court assistant, said the apex court on Monday. The Supreme Court secretary general stated in a press release that the committee submitted its report on May 5 to the “the next senior judge competent to receive the report and also a copy is sent to judge concerned, namely CJI Ranjan Gogoi”.
The report filed by the panel would not be made public as per a 2003 judgement.
It also said that the report filed by the panel would not be made public as per a 2003 judgement. On April 30, the complainant withdrew from the inquiry proceedings stating that the committee had denied her request for video recording of the procedure. She also alleged in a press release that the committee had restricted her from disclosing the proceedings of the matter to the media or to even her lawyer Vrinda Grover.
The 32-year-old also stated that she was forced to walk out of the panel as the panel’s questions caused her more “fear and trauma” and was unsure if the process would help end the “stress and harassment” she has faced.
The woman said there is a need to adopt a “procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances” that she is placed in. “I had hoped that the approach of the committee towards me would be sensitive and not one that would cause me further fear, anxiety and trauma,” she said. The 32-year-old also stated that she was forced to walk out of the panel as the panel’s questions caused her more “fear and trauma” and was unsure if the process would help end the “stress and harassment” she has faced. She had appeared for the third time before the panel on April 30 after which she announced that she wouldn’t participate in the proceedings.
Despite the fact that the complainant was absent, the panel proceeded with the inquiry while CJI Gogoi appeared before the committee the following day on May 1.
On April 19, it was reported that a former Supreme Court junior assistant has accused CJI Gogoi of sexual harassment including forcefully hugging her in 2018 after which he dismissed her from duty. She wrote a sworn affidavit and sent it to 22 Supreme Court judges explaining her ordeal caused due to alleged sexual harassment and misuse of power. She also accused Gogoi of ill-treating her after 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.
Since the allegations, associations connected to the Supreme Court have condemned the procedure with which the matter was dealt in the Supreme Court raising questions around the fact that CJI Gogoi headed the very bench constituted to hear a case against him.