New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s in-house committee has cleared Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment allegations raised by a former employee, saying it found “no substance” in the woman’s complaint.
The committee, comprising apex court judges Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Indira Banerjee, said it submitted its report on Sunday. A copy was sent to the next senior judge, after Justice Bobde, who is competent to receive the report and also to the Chief Justice.
Citing a Supreme Court judgment from 2003, the committee said that the report is not liable to be made public.
The woman complainant, in a press release on May 6, said that her “worst fears have come true” and that “all hope of justice and redress from the committee have been shattered”.
“I am highly disappointed and dejected to learn that the in-house committee ‘has found no substance’ in my complaint and feel that gross injustice has been done to me as a woman citizen of India. I am now extremely scared and terrified because the in-house committee, despite having all material placed before them, appears to have given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely malafide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family. I and my family members remain vulnerable to the ongoing reprisals and attack,” she said.
The 35-year-old woman who levelled the allegations against the CJI deposed before the committee twice before walking out when she appeared for the third time, citing a lack of ‘sensitivity’ on the part of the panel. “I had hoped that the approach of the committee towards me would be sensitive and not one that would cause me further fear, anxiety and trauma,” she said on May 1.
“I will consult my lawyer and decide on the next steps. Today, I am at the verge of losing faith in the capacity of our system to deliver justice to the weak and vulnerable who are pitted against the powerful within the system itself,” she said in a press release after the in-house committee submitted its report.
On Sunday, the Indian Express reported that Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, wrote to the committee on May 2, urging it to not proceed with the inquiry ex-parte as it could damage the court’s reputation. The newspaper also reported that Justice Chandrachud met the committee in person.
Though the apex court issued a statement denying that the judge met the committee, it did not explicitly deny the claim that Justice Chandrachud wrote a letter to the three judges.
On the same day that Justice Chandrachud wrote the letter, CJI Ranjan Gogoi deposed before the committee, which decided to proceed ex-parte.
SC to hear plea seeking probe into “conspiracy to fix CJI”
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to the CBI to lodge an FIR into the alleged conspiracy to “fix” CJI Gogoi in a “concocted, false sexual harassment” case and said the matter would come up for hearing in “due course”.
The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench comprising Justices S.A. Bobde and S.A. Nazeer.
Advocate M.L. Sharma, who filed the petition, urged the bench to list his plea for hearing on May 8.
“What is the urgency? You have filed it and it will come up for hearing. It will be listed in due course,” the bench remarked.
Sharma has named activist-lawyers like Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Kamini Jaiswal, Vrinda Grover, Indira Jaising, Nina Gupta Bhasin and Dushyant Dave as parties in his public interest litigation (PIL).