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CJI Hints At 'Peaceful Conclusion' For Case Of ADJ Who Had To Resign After Accusing HC Judge Of Sexual Harassment

Nilashish Chaudhary & Radhika Roy
12 Feb 2020 9:19 AM GMT
CJI Hints At Peaceful Conclusion For Case Of ADJ Who Had To Resign After Accusing HC Judge Of Sexual Harassment
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the plea seeking reinstatement of an Additional District Judge in Madhya Pradesh who had to resign after raising sexual harassment allegations against Madya Pradesh High Court judge Justice S.K. Gangele (since retired).Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading the bench, asked Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, lawyer of the former ADJ, whether she would be...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the plea seeking reinstatement of an Additional District Judge in Madhya Pradesh who had to resign after raising sexual harassment allegations against Madya Pradesh High Court judge Justice S.K. Gangele (since retired).

Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading the bench, asked Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, lawyer of the former ADJ, whether she would be accept a posting at any other State, if given reinstatement.

Jaising responded that she would prefer any State in the northern part of the country. Jaising also added that the former judge's work had been impeccable; she had been appointed the chairperson of the district Vishakha committee, and an Annual Confidential Report (ACR) of her work between the years 2011 and 2013 had described her performance "excellent and outstanding."

Jaising further informed the Bench that raising the sexual harassment complaint had resulted in the transfer of the former ADJ from Gwalior to Sidhi in 2014. However, due to her daughter's board examinations, she was unable to take up the transfer and was forced to resign. She had also made representations to seek an extension of her time in Gwalior by eight months, but they were rejected.

Subsequently, in 2015, a 3-member committee constituted by the Rajya Sabha comprising SC judge Justice R. Bhanumathi, Justice Manjula Chellur(former CJ Bombay HC) and Senior Advocate K.K. Venugopal, had held that the transfer was unlawful. The report criticized the "total lack of human face" in the transfer of the judge and stated that it was more of an unjustifiable punitive action, rather than an administrative one.

Jaising also informed the Court that the former judge was willing to forego the remunerations of the past few years, but wished to retain her seniority.

It is the judge's intention to pursue the profession of a judge and "just get on with her life", added Jaising.

CJI agreed with this and said "I must compliment you and your attitude. It is the right attitude to have in such situations. Why get into all this?".

Chief Justice Bobde then said that the dispute could now be brought to a "peaceful conclusion" as Madhya Pradesh HC has a new Chief Justice now.  

Senior Advocate R Srivastava for Registrar General of HC submitted that reinstatement may have consequences.

CJI asked the HC's counsel to consider plea for reinstatement and expressed that the same could be done even without monetary benefits.

The counsel for the High Court has been asked to get instructions on this point. The case will be next taken on March 16, 2020.

In January 2019, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had submitted in Supreme Court that it was not possible to reinstate the ADJ.

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