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SC Reinstates Complainant In CJI Sexual Harassment Case To Service

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Jan 2020 6:10 AM GMT
SC Reinstates Complainant In CJI Sexual Harassment Case To Service
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The ex-Supreme Court staff who alleged sexual harassment by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi has been reinstated to her services, reported Indian Express today. As per the report, she has joined duty and all her arrears have been cleared. Her services as a Junior Court Assistant were terminated in December 2018, following a disciplinary enquiry. However, in a letter addressed to the Supreme...

The ex-Supreme Court staff who alleged sexual harassment by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi has been reinstated to her services, reported Indian Express today. As per the report, she has joined duty and all her arrears have been cleared.

Her services as a Junior Court Assistant were terminated in December 2018, following a disciplinary enquiry. However, in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court judges in April last year, she complained that she and her family had been victimized for resisting the unwanted sexual advances of Justice Gogoi, when she was posted at his residence office in October 2018.

She alleged that she was transferred thrice in matter of weeks and was falsely accused in a bribery case. Further, her husband who was a Head Constable with the Delhi Police was also suddenly transferred from the Crime Branch division.

Following massive media reporting on the issue, a Special bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta registered suo moto case to deal with the matter of "great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary".

The special bench considered the sexual harassment case alongside allegations made by Advocate Utsav Bains that three disgruntled employees of the Supreme Court conspired along with corporate lobbyists to frame sexual harassment allegations against the CJI. Subsequently, the court appointed a committee headed by former SC judge Justice AK Patnaik to look into the alleged conspiracy theory.

In June, 2019, the committee concluded that the matter warranted further inquiry, following which an In-House Panel of Judges constituted by Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee, was appointed.

However, Justice Ramana recused from the panel after the complainant alleged that he was a close friend to Justice Gogoi. She had also pointed out that the day her affidavit was sent to the Supreme Court judges, Justice Ramana, speaking in Hyderabad, had dismissed her allegations. Consequently, the panel was reconstituted and Justice Indu Malhotra replaced Justice Ramana.

Nevertheless, the complainant withdrew from the proceedings stating that the atmosphere of the in-house committee was "frightening". In a press release issued in that behalf, she said that she felt "intimidated" in the presence of three Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court. She also alleged that the inquiry was not being conducted fairly as she was not permitted to be represented by a lawyer. She had also mentioned that the witnesses of her case were staff of the Court and there was no likelihood of them being able to depose fearlessly before the committee. Further, she expressed dissatisfaction about the committee not addressing her demand to follow the procedure under the Vishakha guidelines and the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Against Women at the Workplace Act 2013.

After four sittings, the panel gave a clean chit to Justice Gogoi. As per the report submitted in May 2019, there was "no substance" in the allegations contained in the complaint. In a press release issued in that behalf, the Secretary General of the Supreme Court told that as per the decision in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, the report of committee constituted as a part of the in-House procedure was not liable to be made public and it had been submitted to next senior Judge competent to receive the report and also to the CJI.

Timeline [April 23- May 5]

April 20: Complainant former employee writes to SC judges alleging that she was sexually harassed by Justice Gogoi.

April 23: A panel of Justices Bobde, Ramana and Indira Banerjee gets constituted to probe the allegations levelled by the former Junior Court Staff.

April 24: The complainant former employee expresses concerns about Justice Bobde Panel

April 25: Justice NV Ramana recuses from the panel. Justice Indu Malhotra replaces Justice Ramana.

April 26: Complainant appears before the In-House Committee.

April 30- Complainant decides not to participate in In-House enquiry any longer.

May 1: CJI Gogoi Deposes Before the committee.

May 6: Report submitted by the In-House Committee.

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