Over 50 activists demonstrated a peaceful protest outside Supreme Court but were arrested under a clause (Section 144) that prohibits assembly of more than four people in India. The peaceful protest was called against the procedure adopted to deal with sexual harassment case against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. On Monday May 6th, CJI Ranjan Gogoi received a clean chit from the in-house inquiry panel in the sexual harassment at workplace case.
“The Supreme Court of India faces a historic challenge today from the women of this country, who have been let down like never before and by the CJI himself as well as the so-called 'in-house' Committee which has given a 'clean-chit' to the CJI Mr. Ranjan Gogoi, in complete violation of the spirit of Vishaka Guidelines and the PoSH Act, 2013." The Supreme Court is answerable to the woman who complained against the Chief Justice said the statement released by the protesters which was seen by this report.
Short Lived Due to Arrests?
The protest organized to condemn the judgment only saw women activists. Not enough women lawyers showed p. Futher, it was a short-lived protest of just 15 minutes. The detaining of women deterred people from coming out in big numbers.
"The police dragged women across the road. They are detaining us indefinitely. Saying unless ‘higher authorities’ allow it, we cannot leave,” messaged Amrita Johri of the Right to Food Campaign and Satark Nagrik Sangathan from inside the police station.
Since morning, there were reports circulating on social media about the possibility of water cannons being deployed to disperse the protestors and the possibility of arrests as tactics used by the police. Did this deter women from joining in the protest and why is it that grave tactics like such are being used by police to curb a peaceful protest?
As soon as the judgment came out, 24 hours before the protest, a press statement was released from the Supreme Court. This stated that the report of the judgment, that gave Chief Justice Gogoi won’t be made public, NGOs working for the cause of women’s issues decided to stage the protest.
The women activists who participated in the protest included CPI-M member Annie Raja, RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, Koninika Ray, Prof. Uma Chakravarti , Maya Rao, Gautam Mody, Nandini Rao, Prof Nandini Sundar, Vani. A total of 52 women and three men were forcibly taken to Mandi Marg Police Station and detained.
The activists are calling the judgment “supreme injustice” with the way it has been brought out. They raised placards with slogans of “No Clean Chit”, “No Means No” etc.
The Case So Far
On April 19 a former junior court assistant filed an affidavit detailing an incident of sexual harassment at workplace that she was subjected to allegedly by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. After this, Gogoi called an emergency meeting in which he headed the bench hearing of his own case but when the report of the hearing was released, it did not say that CJI Gogoi was part of the bench.
While the complainant participated in the proceedings initially, she withdrew on April 30 because the committee denied her request of video recording.
SC formed a three-judge inquiry panel to deal with the proceedings of the case comprising of Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee who declared in 14-day trial that they did not find any “substance in the allegations made by the complainant”.
While the complainant participated in the proceedings initially, she withdrew on April 30 because the committee denied her request of video recording. 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. After the judgment, she again released as press statement in which she said that she feels, “extremely scared and terrified because the In- House Committee, despite having all material placed before them, appears to have given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely malafide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family. I and my family members remain vulnerable to the ongoing reprisals and attack.”
Picture credit- SheThePeople.TV