In response to some media reports on sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi made by a former Supreme Court employee, a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of the CJI, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna held a special sitting today.
The notice by registry had stated that the sitting is to deal with a matter of 'great public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary'.
The CJI, acknowledging the communications received from the Wire, Leaflet, Caravan and Scroll, said:
"All I would like to say is this, undoubtedly every employees are treated fairly and decently. This employee was there for a month and half. Allegations came and I didn't deem it appropriate to reply to the allegations."
He further continued:
"More After 20 years or selfless service. It is unbelievable ...With a bank balance of 6,80,000 that is in my bank account. This is my total asset. When I started as a judge, I have much hope. On the verge of retirement I have 6 lakhs.This is the reward CJI gets after 20 years , a bank balance of 680,000. This I thought should be told from highest seat of judiciary."
The CJI said he believes that there is a bigger plot behind this, and those people 'want to deactivate the office of CJI'. The CJI said:
"Independence of judiciary is under very very serious threat. If the judges have to work under these conditions, good people will never come to this office.. I have to say this to the citizens if the country, Judiciary of the country is under serious threat. But regardless of that I'll continue to function."
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta termed the allegations 'a blackmail technique', while the Attorney General KK Venugopal highlighted the fact that the names have been published, even though there is a legal bar. Justice Arun Mishra, who is also part of the bench, said: "We are not passing any judicial order at the moment. It is the wisdom of media to publish it or not."
The CJI further expressed his anguish. He said:
"No judge is going to decide cases if this is the kind of attack we get. Reputation is only thing we get. Even that is attacked"
The court said that an appropriate Bench will hear the sexual harassment allegations.
The report by Scroll said that a former Junior Court Assistant in Supreme Court has, in a letter to Judges of the SC Judges alleged that she faced sexual harassment from Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. In a 28 page write up, styled as 'affidavit', the former employee complains that she and her family have been victimized for resisting and refusing the unwanted sexual advances of the CJI.
In her affidavit, she narrates her job environment from the day she joined the Court as Junior Court Assistant. She says that, from 11th August 2018 onward, she was posted at the Residence Office of Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Later, she says that she was transferred thrice in a matter of weeks – first on October 22, 2018, to the Centre for Research and Planning (CRP), then to the Admin Material Section, and finally to the Library on November 22, 2018. On November 19, however, she has issued a memorandum that a disciplinary enquiry was being initiated against her. Finally, she was dismissed in December 2018. Her husband who has been a Head Constable with the Delhi Police since June 2013 was suddenly transferred from the Crime Branch division, she added. She also claims that she was arrested on an accusation that she had taken Rs 50,000 from a person in 2017, promising to secure a job for him in the Supreme Court, but had failed to keep her word.
The Secretary General in his reply mail to several media houses, said:
"Throughout her employment in the Supreme Court, whether during her posting at home office of the CJI, or even subsequently after she was transferred out of the home office of the Chief Justice of India, or at the time she was terminated, or even thereafter, there were no complaints made by her of the nature now being alleged. It is not only mischievous but a complete afterthought of her to make these false allegations at this time."
"It appears that these false allegations are being made as a pressure tactics to somehow come out of the various proceedings which have been initiated in law, against her and her family, for their on wrong doings. Its is also very possible that there are mischievous forces behind all this, with an intention to malign the institution. "