The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, dismissed a writ petition filed by a Judicial Officer of Delhi Higher Judicial Services, who is facing disciplinary proceedings alleging sexual harassment.
A Junior Judicial Assistant had filed a complaint against the judicial officer alleging sexual harassment at work place. When the matter reached the Full Court, the Judicial Officer was placed under suspension with immediate effect pending disciplinary proceeding contemplated against him. The judge approached the Apex court seeking to quash the proceedings of Internal Complaints Committee as well as Charge Sheet filed against him.
One of the contentions raised was that in view of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, there being an Inquiry Report by Internal Complaints Committee as envisaged by Sections 11 and 13, the High Court could not have taken a decision to initiate the inquiry or to suspend the judicial officer. The issues considered by the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Navin Sinha were:
Answering the first two issues, the bench observed that provisions of Sections 11 and 13 in no manner affect the control of the High Court under Article 235, which it has with respect to judicial officers as noted above.
"The power to suspend the judicial officer vests in the High Court. The Full Court of the High court is in no manner precluded from initiating disciplinary inquiry against the petitioner and placing the petitioner under suspension on being satisfied that sufficient material existed. The High Court in its meeting dated 19.07.2016 has resolved to send the complaint of the employee to the Internal Complaints Committee and the Internal Complaints Committee having opined that inquiry need to be held, further steps were taken in accordance with Act, 2013."
With regard to the third issue, the bench noted that under Section 11(1) in the second proviso, the only contemplation is to make available a copy of the findings. Thus, when the report in which there are no findings, parties are not entitled to have the copy, the bench said while dismissing the petition.
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