"Grave Failure Of Due Process", Sr Adv Raju Ramachandran On SC's Saturday Sitting
Senior Advocate and former ASG Raju Ramachandran termed the special sitting held by Supreme Court on Saturday in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against Cheif Justice of India a 'grave failure of due process'.
In a response given to Live Law, he said :
"When an allegation of sexual harassment is made,the person concerned is fully entitled to assert his innocence, but without shaming the accuser. A public announcement to the media or a personal communique by the CJI would have been fully justified. But for the sake of public confidence in the judiciary,it was important for the CJI to state that he himself wanted the matter inquired into, by a mechanism which his colleagues in the court could determine in accordance with law and established procedure.
The bizarre procedure which was actually adopted,with the CJI sitting on the Bench doesn't enhance the independence of the judiciary in any manner. It is a matter of regret that neither the two other judges on the Bench nor the law officers and the President of the Bar offered their legal views on proper procedure. What happened on Saturday was a grave failure of due process. Condemnation of the accuser in her absence has brought little credit to all those involved in Saturday's proceedings".
On April 20, a special sitting of a bench of CJI Gogoi, Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna was held, which was stated to be on the basis of a suo moto case registered on a mention by Solicitor General Thushar Mehta to deal with a "a matter of 'great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary'.
During the session, the CJI mentioned that four online news portals had published reports of a sexual harassment charge against him brought by a former SC staff.
The CJI dismissed the allegations as a "plot to deactivate the office of CJI".
The Attorney General, Solicitor General and the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association concurred with the CJI and termed the allegations as an attack on judicial independence.
After the session, the bench passed an order, signed by only Justices Mishra and Khanna, stating :
"Having considered the matter, we refrain from passing any judicial order at this moment leaving it to the wisdom of the media to show restraint, act responsibly as is expected from them and accordingly decide what should or should not be published as wild and scandalous allegations undermine and irreparably damage reputation and negate independence of judiciary. We would therefore at this juncture leave it to the media to take off such material which is undesirable."
The court also said that an 'appropriate Bench' will hear this issue.