New Delhi: The Delhi police last week reinstated the husband and brother-in-law of the woman who had alleged that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had sexually harassed her at his residence office.
Both had been serving in the Delhi police as head constables before they were suspended on January 2, 2019, a week after the woman was also dismissed from her position as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court. A departmental inquiry against them had been started on January 6.
The decision to revoke their suspension came more than a month after a Supreme Court committee comprising Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra exonerated the CJI from sexual and mental harassment charges. The committee had wrapped up its inquiry in three sittings over four days.
The former SC staffer had withdrawn from the inquiry panel after three sittings because the judges declined multiple requests made by her to allow a lawyer or a support person to be present with her during her questioning. She had said that she was hoping to be treated with sensitivity but was humiliated during the inquiry – an exercise which she said ended up triggering further anxiety and trauma.
At present, she is undergoing treatment for hearing impairment, which she claims was the result of harassment over the past few months.
The reinstatement of her husband and brother-in-law in the Delhi police will come as a relief for the former SC staffer who told The Wire that “she had lost everything” and that her family had to face the brunt of high-level officials only because of her. In her affidavit, the woman alleged that her husband and brother-in-law were suspended on false charges and that the Delhi police was acting at the behest of high-level officials at the SC.
Speaking to Indian Express, additional commissioner of police (Delhi Armed police) C.K. Mein confirmed that the suspension orders of her brother-in-law and husband have been revoked.
“Both of them have been reinstated last week but the departmental inquiry against them is still pending,” Mein said, while declining to comment on why the orders were revoked. This means that they still run the risk of being sacked if the departmental inquiry finds the charges against them to be true.
The former woman staffer’s husband is facing two charges. One is that he called the CJI’s office and text messaged the CJI’s private secretary H.K. Juneja multiple times, allegedly to seek forgiveness, when his wife was sacked. The second charge is that he hid the fact that a case of “unruly behaviour” was registered against him in 2012. A case had been registered against the complainant’s family by another Delhi police staff who used to stay in the same police colony as hers. The matter was, however, compounded the same year.
The joint police inquiry that is being conducted against the husband and the brother-in-law is on the allegation that the two had connections with a person who runs an illegal gambling racket in New Delhi’s Tilak Nagar. However, both have denied any associations with the gambling racket.
Express has reported that when deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma was asked about the timing of the suspension of the two men, he said, “There is no link between the departmental inquiry (against the two men) and the woman’s case.”
The woman’s brother-in-law also told the newspaper that both he and his brother have been reinstated. “We were reinstated a few days ago and now we hope they will also close our departmental inquiry as we are innocent… My brother is currently in Mumbai with his wife for her ear treatment.”
The woman’s husband, however, told the paper: “I am not aware of the development as I am on leave.”
On her own termination, the woman, a Dalit, had said that the apex court’s disciplinary committee had proceeded ex parte to dismiss her without giving her a hearing, and that she and her family were victimised after she spurned the alleged sexual advances by the CJI last October. She said that she was transferred thrice after she refused the CJI’s advances, and was finally terminated for trivial charges like questioning senior officers regarding her frequent transfers and for taking leave without authorisation – something the disciplinary committee regarded as a case of insubordination.