Another allegation of sexual harassment by a law intern against a Supreme Court judge

Another allegation of sexual harassment by a law intern against a Supreme Court judge

In the wake of sexual harassment charges leveled by a NUJS student against former Justice A K Ganguly, yet another incident of a former student of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (Kolkata) complaining to Chief Justice of India Justice P Sathasivam that she was sexually harassed by a former judge of the Supreme Court has come into the limelight.

The student made the complaint of alleged sexual harassment andstated that the stand taken by her fellow student against former Justice AK Ganguly encouraged her to come out with her complaint. The student had filed a formal complaint in December 2013.The important aspect in this allegation is that when the alleged incident took place the judge in this case was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court and the complainant was, officially, an intern in his office. However, in the case involving Justice Ganguly, who resigned two days ago, as chief of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, when the alleged sexual harassment incident involving him took place, he had already retired from the apex court.

In the present case, the NUJS student commenced her internship in May 2011 when the judge, who now holds a post-retirement job having been nominated to it by the then Chief Justice of India, and his office were actively involved in organizing a conference. According to a newspaper daily, it has been confirmed from sources in Delhi and Kolkata that the woman sent her detailed complaint to the Chief Justice of India last month. However, the apex court told the student that she could take appropriate legal action under the law, as the Chief Justice of India could do very little in the present case. It is possible that a petition will be filed by the complainant seeking action against the former judge.

The woman in her complaint is known to have recounted two instances of how she was allegedly sexually assaulted by the former judge. According to reports, the woman left the internship mid-way because she was “strongly disturbed and upset” with the behavior of the judge. It was only after the instant response of the apex court to the allegations against Ganguly, that she decided to bring the alleged incident to the notice of the Chief Justice of India.

Notably, Justice Sathasivam, in his order disposing the Ganguly matter in light of the report of the three-judge probe panel constituted by him on November 12, has said no follow-up action was required by the apex court since the complainant “was not an intern on the roll of the Supreme Court and the concerned judge has already demitted office on account of superannuation on the date of incident”.