Sexual Harassment Charges: Mumbai Sessions Court Judge suspended after preliminary enquiry found prima facie evidence
A Mumbai Sessions Court Judge M.T. Gaikwad has been suspended on charges of sexual harassment of a staff member, after a preliminary inquiry found prima facie evidence against him. The accused is a Judge of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act Court.
The female staff member had filed a complaint with the Registrar a month ago, following which an inquiry was conducted by a Special Women’s Court Judge. A preliminary inquiry was conducted immediately by S D Tulankar, who is currently the designated judge for the special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA) court. The enquiry report submitted last week indicated enough evidence against the Judge.
A charge sheet will now be filed against the judge, following which he will be given a chance to defend himself by being represented by a lawyer in a departmental inquiry, which will be conducted by a senior Judge of either the Mumbai Sessions Court or the Bombay High Court. If the charges are proved, he would either face termination of service or demotion.
According to the Registrar General of Bombay High Court Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, "We have taken immediate action and suspended the concerned judge after a preliminary inquiry found material against him for sexually harassing the court staff."
This is probably the first instance where a Judge in Mumbai has been suspended on charges of sexual harassment.
The Judge reportedly would "keep the victim back till late each day and pass objectionable remarks". The victim had first made an oral complaint with the registrar of the Sessions court, after which she was asked to make a formal complaint.
More recently, the High Court had transferred Metropolitan Magistrate M. Bhosale from the Borivli court to the Mazgaon metropolitan court. An advocate, C K Pandey, had gone on hunger strike last week alleging that Bhosale had passed rude comments against his advocate-wife Vandana Pandey. The Borivli Advocates Bar Association had supported the advocate and made a representation before the guardian-Judge of the High Court.
Gaikwad had started his judicial career in 1993. His last posting was in Parbhani district. In 2012, he was transferred to Mumbai as a civil court Judge. In May this year, Gaikwad was posted to preside over NDPS cases.
Recent times have seen a lot of such allegations against sitting and retired Judges. The issue is a growing cause of concern, with several suggestions coming forward. Read all allegations here.