Transparency Of Procedure Should Be Maintained: Activists On CJI Case
A large number of women activists and lawyers were detained on Friday and taken to the Mandir Marg Police Station in the national capital. They were protesting against the clean chit given to Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and the procedures adopted in the sexual harassment case.
The protesters started their peaceful protest from Mandi House and went on to march till the Supreme Court. SheThePeople.TV spoke to the detainees to know what compelled them to stage the protest and what their demands were.
Amrita Johri who works on issues related to Right To Information (RTI) and is associated with National Campaign for people’s rights to information said, “All of us look up to the Supreme Court whenever our rights are violated or trampled upon. The Supreme Court is dealing with this case in an arbitrary manner and is not able to ensure even the basic tenets of justice for this woman. It raises questions on where the institution is headed. When the committee was set up to look into the case, it did not keep up with the principles of Vishakha guidelines or Sexual Harassment Act. They didn’t allow the woman any lawyer. They didn’t allow any support person. They are not even giving her the copy of a report.”
She further explained that they are standing shoulder to shoulder with that woman because the fight represents the larger issue of patriarchy within the Supreme Court and its unwillingness to clean it up.
“We are not commenting on whether the complaint is true or false or whether the CJI did it or not, we are just saying that every person the right to fair enquiry and due processes.” she clarified.
“What Supreme Court has done is illegal. All rules, regulations and laws are violated. The legal rights of the complainant were not respected. Transparency in the procedure should be maintained.” said Annie Raja, the General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women
“We had given a letter to the police yesterday; they didn’t deny us the permission after they received our application. They said that section 144 will be implemented near the Supreme Court. We told them that you do your duty and we will do ours. We reached the Supreme Court and suddenly they declared Section 144 there. They picked us up and took us to Mandir Marg Police Station. Others were taken to Paliamentary Police Station.”, she explained.
We also spoke to Anjali Bhardwaj, another RTI activist who said that this was a very significant case in the sense that there is an allegation of sexual harassment against one of the most powerful people in the country.
“Given that it is the Chief Justice of India, what was expected of the Supreme Court was that it does what it had to do, but we also get to see what it has done. Unfortunately, what we have witnessed is how the case has been mishandled; the way principles of national justice have been violated. The manner in which the process has been subverted shakes up public faith and trust in the institution itself. CJI, in his own case, sets up a bench and presides over it. This is violates all principles of justice. There must be an independent and credible inquiry into the matter. If there is an allegation of this nature, then there has to be a process that’s followed that instills faith in the system. The woman must be given a fair hearing; the committee must have external members to look into the case. It should function transparently.” she said.
“We were peacefully demonstrating, speaking to each other but we all were forcibly pushed into police vans and buses and detained at the Mandal Marg Police station and Parliament Street Police Station.” said Anjali Bhardwaj, RTI activist
“When it comes to CJI, there are no systems in place to look into the cases of misconduct whether it is financial or sexual harassment. That can’t be allowed. No one is above the law, even if it is the CJI. Judges must get special protection because of the role they are playing but it doesn’t mean that their cases are not investigated into when these kinds of allegations are made. The demand is to have a framework through which the judges and CJI can also be held accountable.” she added.