Women

Women's Groups, Lawyers Support Complainant's Decision to Withdraw From Inquiry Into CJI Gogoi

"We reiterate that the constitution of the three judge Committee is inherently flawed, as the Chief Justice is senior to the three judges hearing the complaint and head of the Institution."

New Delhi: More than 300 women – including civil society groups, lawyers, activists and academics – have issued a statement expressing their solidarity with the woman who alleged sexual harassment by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and supported her decision to withdraw from the in-house panel looking into the allegations.

The 35-year-old woman raised four specific objections while withdrawing from the committee: that she was not allowed to have her lawyer accompany her, that there were no video or audio recordings of the committee proceedings, that she had not been given copies of her depositions and that she had not been informed of the procedure that the committee was following.

She also alleged that the judges on the panel – Justice S.A. Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indrani Banerjee – were not treating the case with sensitivity. She described the atmosphere in the committee meeting “very frightening” and said she felt that she was “not likely to get justice” there.

In their statement, the women have said that the committee has “delegitimised” itself by continuing with the inquiry and summoning CJI Gogoi even after the women withdrew. They have asked that the court put a stop to these proceedings, and said that the panel is “inherently flawed” due to the lack of an external member.

Read the full text of their statement below.

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We, members of women’s groups, lawyers, scholars and civil society, stand in solidarity with the decision of the complainant to withdraw from the in-house committee proceedings into her complaint of sexual harassment at workplace, against the Chief Justice of India. The reasons given by her in the letter justify her decision to abstain, especially in the context of total imbalance of power vis-a-vis her on one side and the members of highest judiciary on the other.

Post the Complainant expressing her decision not to participate in the process, the Chief Justice of India is said to have appeared before the Committee and the Committee has decided to proceed with the enquiry ex-parte.

By this very conduct the committee has completely delegitimized itself. If the committee continues to proceed with the enquiry instead of satisfactorily concluding the matter it will raise many more questions.

We write again, calling upon the Supreme Court judges to take corrective steps and put a halt to these proceedings. If they fail to do so, not only the complainant but the citizens of this country, especially women and marginalized sections, will lose faith in the judicial system.

Also read: Handling of Harassment Complaint Against CJI Perpetuates Existing Power Imbalance

We are aware, that this is an extraordinary case that calls for extraordinary measures to be put in place, as this is a matter pertaining to the highest judicial authority under the constitution.

However, extraordinary measures cannot and ought not to overlook, fundamental principles of natural justice and fair hearing.

We reiterate that the constitution of the three judge Committee is inherently flawed, as the Chief Justice is senior to the three judges hearing the complaint and head of the Institution. The Committee also does not adhere to the spirit of either the 2013 Act or the Vishaka Guidelines, laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court itself in 1997. The absence of an external member, whose role is to ensure that there is no undue pressure or influence on either the complainant or the witnesses during the enquiry, casts a shadow on the intent behind and the purpose of setting up this Committee itself.

Further, failing to stipulate the procedure to be followed, terming the proceeding as an ‘informal’, and not allowing a lawyer/support person to be present, completely ignores the unequal balance of power not only between the parties but also between the complainant and the Committee itself.

Also read: Even Judges Are Mortals When it Comes to Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

The procedure established by law has not only to be followed by those subordinates to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, but by the Supreme Court itself. Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India would have no meaning otherwise.

If the highest judicial authority does not follow its own procedures and stand up in support of the less powerful, it will send a message of disquiet to all those keeping faith in the system.

In order to maintain this faith and to stand with the less powerful, the complainant in this case, we implore the present Committee to immediately stop hearing this Complaint.

We once again demand of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India:

  1. A Special Enquiry Committee consisting of credible individuals be constituted to conduct a thorough enquiry at the earliest and create an atmosphere of transparency and confidence for the complainant to depose.
  2. The Special Enquiry Committee should follow the norms of the IC and the principles of natural justice and accordingly conduct its enquiry.
  3. The Chief Justice of India should refrain from transacting official duties and responsibilities until the completion of the enquiry.
  4. The complainant must be allowed to be represented by a lawyer/support person of her choice.

Endorsed by,

  1. Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
  2. Nari Samata Manch, Pune
  3. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland
  4. Labia – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai
  5. Saheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi
  6. Bebaak Collective
  7. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra
  8. National Federation of Indian Women
  9. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA)
  10. Nari Ekta Shakti Sangathan, Delhi
  11. Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
  12. National Alliance of People’s Movements
  13. Nirantar, A Center for Gender and Education, New Delhi
  14. Sandhya Gokhale, FAOW
  15. Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
  16. Veena Gowda, Advocate, Mumbai
  17. Adv Vasudha Nagaraj, Lawyer, High Court of Telangana, Hyderabad
  18. Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist Researcher and Activist, Mumbai
  19. Nisha Biswas, Scientist and WSS, Kolkata
  20. Dr. Veena Shatrughna, Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad
  21. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Transgender RTI activist, Telangana
  22. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Telangana
  23. Kavita Srivastava, PUCL
  24. Adv. Pyoli Swatija, Supreme Court of India and WSS
  25. Flavia Agnes, Advocate
  26. Sandhya, Progressive Association of Women, Telangana
  27. V. Geetha, Historian and Writer, Chennai
  28. N. Vasanti, Professor of Constitutional Law, Nalsar, Hyderabad
  29. Mary E John, New Delhi
  30. Uma Chakravarti, Historian, New Delhi
  31. Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
  32. Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai
  33. Meena Gopal, Mumbai
  34. Hasina Khan, Mumbai
  35. Shals Mahajan, Mumbai
  36. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara
  37. Susie Tharu, Feminist Academic and Researcher, Avneshi, Hyderabad
  38. Amit Kumar, Student, LLB, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
  39. Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women’s Support Alliance
  40. Bijaya Chanda, Advocate, Alipore Court, Kolkata, West Bengal
  41. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social activist. Chennai.
  42. Sumi Krishna, Former President (2005-08), Indian Association for Women’s Studies,Bengaluru
  43. Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and Feminist Activist, New Delhi
  44. Uma Shankari, Farmer, Researcher on Water, Environment and Livelihoods
  45. Chitra, Labia, Mumbai
  46. Adv Lara Jesani, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra
  47. Vandita Morarka, Founder/CEO, One Future Collective
  48. Tara, Feminist Collective, Sonepat
  49. Saumya Malhotra, Democracy Collective , Delhi NCR
  50. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM Lucknow,U P
  51. Lovika Jaiswal, Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, Noida
  52. Leena Pujari, K C College, Mumbai.
  53. Vimal Bhai, National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  54. B.Girija, State Project Manager, Sakhi Telangana
  55. Meena Seshu and Aarthi Pai, Sangram, Maharashtra
  56. Gita Chadha, Sociologist, Mumbai
  57. Shruti Chakravarty, Mental Health Practitioner, Bombay
  58. Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Former President, Delhi University Teachers’ Association and Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations
  59. Mitra Mukherjee-Parikh, Former Head, Associate Professor, SNDTWU
  60. Dr. Joseph M.T., Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai, Kalina, Mumbai 61. Rukmini Banerjee, Researcher, Mumbai
  61. Kabi. S, Mumbai
  62. Dr V Rukmini Rao, Executive Director Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Tarnaka, Secunderabad, Telangana
  63. Karuna DW, Chennai
  64. Padmaja Shaw
  65. Purnima Gupta, Delhi
  66. Khadijah Faruqui, The Alternate Space Delhi, A Women’s Collective, New Delhi
  67. Tanya Jaiswal, Modern school, Noida
  68. Supriya Jain, CORO India, Mumbai
  69. K Ramnarayan, Uttarakhand, India
  70. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Humans Rights Activist, Mumbai
  71. Bharat, Feminist Activist, Vishakha, Jaipur
  72. Shahira Naim, Special Correspondent, The Tribune, Lucknow
  73. Aiman Khan, Bangalore
  74. Varsha Mehta
  75. Roshni, Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  76. Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, Ahmedabad
  77. Meher Bhoot, WDC, University of Mumbai, Mumbai
  78. Kusumtai Chaudhari Mahila Kalyani C/o Snehja Rupwate
  79. Anupama Potluri, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  80. Minakshi Sanyal, Queer feminist activist, Kolkata
  81. Poushali Basak, FAOW, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  82. Anita Rego, Social Researcher
  83. Smita Parmar, Social Activist, Hajipur, Bihar
  84. Swabhiman Lok Seva Sansthan run by Medical Mission Sisters
  85. Aruna Rodrigues,Environmental and Agro-ecology, Sunray Harvesters, MP
  86. Subhasat
  87. Bindu Doddahatti, Advocate, Bangalore
  88. Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism
  89. A. Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi Research Center for Women’s Studies
  90. Dr. Asma Rasheed, Assistant Professor, EFL University
  91. Sumitra Anukram, Founder of Anukram
  92. Madhumita Sinha, EFL University, Hyderabad
  93. Sajaya K., Independent Journalist and Social Activist, Caring Citizens Collective
  94. Khalida Parveen, General Secretary Amoomat Society
  95. Madhavi Mirapa, Scholar
  96. Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University, Hyderabad
  97. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, Mumbai
  98. Aileen Marques, Advocate Mumbai
  99. Pratibha Shinde, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Nandurbar, Maharashtra
  100. Bittu K., Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Telangana Hijra Intersex Trans Samiti, Asawarpur, Haryana
  101. Tara Murali, Architect, Chennai
  102. Padma, Human Rights Activist
  103. Samar Bagchi, Educationist and Former Director, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata
  104. Nandini Rao, Feminist Trainer and Activist, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, New Delhi
  105. Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Activist and NAPM, UP
  106. M. Mandakini, Lawyer
  107. Kondaveeti Satyavati Bhumika, Hyderabad
  108. Sherin B.S.,English and Foreign Languages University
  109. Lawrence, President, Inigo Foundation
  110. Madhurima Majumder, Assistant Professor, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Shyamala Nataraj, South India AIDS Action Programme
  111. Anupama J, Counselor
  112. M.Sujatha, SPERDS NGO
  113. Jayna Kothari, Senior Advocate
  114. Bindulakshmi, Mumbai
  115. Suresh Melettukochy, Bhopal
  116. Jai Sen, Researcher and Editor, New Delhi
  117. Shubhada Deshmukh, Mahila Arogya Parishad, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra
  118. Sana Contractor, Public Health Researcher, New Delhi
  119. Youth Development
  120. Nandita Gandhi, Activist, Mumbai
  121. Manisha Gupte, Feminist, MASUM, Pune
  122. Madhu Madhavan, Ex. JJP Member, Current PhD student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  123. Vimalbhai, Matu Jan Sangatgan, Uttarakhand
  124. Mamta Singh, Social Worker, Women Rights Activist, Lucknow, UP
  125. Rama Melkote, Prof.(Retd) or Political Science, Senior Activist, Osmania University, Hyderabad
  126. S Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum
  127. K Sudha, Assistant Professor, DSNLU, Member, Human Rights Forum
  128. K Anuradha, Human Rights Forum
  129. Janaki Nair, JNU, New Delhi
  130. Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Study
  131. Sukla Sen, Mumbai
  132. K. Kiran Mayee, Advocate
  133. V. Naga Lakshmi, Advocate
  134. Mohammed Shakeel, Advocate
  135. Ranjana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Bhubaneswar
  136. Kalpana Karunakaran, IIT Madras
  137. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai
  138. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Kochi
  139. Prema Revati, Educationist
  140. Rachana Mudraboyina, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti
  141. Saheli, Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi
  142. Vasudha Katju, Researcher, New Delhi
  143. Aisha Farooqui, Prof. (Retd) Osmania University
  144. Swathy Margaret, Researcher
  145. S. Ashalatha, Social Activist
  146. Radhika Khajuria, New Delhi
  147. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
  148. Ketki Ranade, Mumbai
  149. Asha Achuthan, Mumbai
  150. Vineeta Bal, Pune.
  151. Anjali Rawat, Law Researcher
  152. Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, Mumbai
  153. Madhu Bhushan
  154. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice, Himachal Pradesh
  155. Pragya Joshi, PUCL, Udaipur
  156. Dr. Albertina Almeida, Advocate, Goa.
  157. Vennela Madabhushi, Lawyer, Bangalore
  158. Anuradha Pati, Development Professional
  159. Soma KP, Independent Research Scholar
  160. Lata Singh, JNU
  161. Urmilla Chandran, Principal Technical Writer
  162. Kaneez Fatima, Activist and Librarian
  163. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships
  164. Masooma Ranalvi, We SpeakOut
  165. Srinivas Vellikad, Senior Manager, Documentation.
  166. S. Seethalakshmi, Researcher
  167. Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, Mumbai
  168. Sunkara Rajendra Prasad, Advocate, Vijayawada
  169. Vahida Nainar, Mumbai
  170. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  171. Jayasree.A K., Professor, Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Kannur, Kerala
  172. Shaitan Singh, Law Student, Visakhapatnam
  173. Anjana Ramanathan, Advocate
  174. Piyoli Swatija, Advocate
  175. VS Krishna, Human Rights Forum
  176. Smita Gupta, New Delhi
  177. Geeta Seshu, Journalist
  178. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
  179. Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University
  180. Ritu Dewan, ​Vice President at Indian Society of Labour Economics
  181. Sarojini.N, New Delhi
  182. Brinelle D’souza, TISS
  183. Deeptha Achar, Professor, Baroda
  184. Shilpaa Anand, BITS- Pilani, Hyderabad campus
  185. Shefali Jha, University of Hyderabad
  186. M. Madhavi, Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Bangalore
  187. Kumar Shubham Raj, Advocate, Bihar
  188. Bushra Quasmi, Asst Prof, DSNLU, Visakhapatnam
  189. B Syama Sundari, Dastakar Andhra
  190. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori
  191. Ambika Tandon, New Delhi
  192. Anandhi.S, Researcher, Chennai
  193. Shalini Gera, Advocate, Bilaspur High Court
  194. Govind Kelkar, Senior Advisor – Women, Land & Productive Assets
  195. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT, Bangalore
  196. PV Srividya, Journalist, Krishnagiri
  197. K. Katyayani, Prof (Retd), Kakatitya University, Warangal
  198. Deepa V health Activist, Delhi
  199. Sunita Bandewar, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai; Vidhayak Trust, Pune
  200. Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata
  201. Veena Johari, Advocate, Mumbai
  202. Mumtaz Sheikh, CORO Mahila Mandal federation Mumbai
  203. Rohini Hensman, Writer & Researcher
  204. Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist
  205. Tashi Choedup, Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist
  206. Aditi Joshi, Mumbai
  207. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai
  208. Kaveri Dadhich, Mumbai
  209. Padma, Independent Researcher , Mumbai
  210. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Ooty
  211. R. Alphonso, Mumbai
  212. Neha Singh, Mumbai
  213. Shewli Kumar, Mumbai
  214. Bharati Kapadia, Mumbai
  215. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Mumbai
  216. Catrinel Dunca, Ahmedabad
  217. Nirja Vasavada, Ahmedabad
  218. Shumona Goel
  219. Mani A., Kolkata
  220. Kamaxi Bhate, Mumbai
  221. Mridul Dudeja, Mumbai
  222. Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, New Delhi
  223. Gayatri, Faculty, TISS, Hyderabad
  224. Abhiti Gupta, Legal Activist, New Delhi
  225. Maneka Khanna, Advocate, Delhi
  226. Surabhi Dhar, Advocate, Delhi
  227. Zeba Sikora, Advocate, Mumbai
  228. Rupali Samuel, Advocate, Delhi
  229. Payoshi Roy, Advocate, Mumbai
  230. Archit Krishna, Advocate, Chhattisgarh
  231. Satnam Kaur, New Delhi
  232. Reethika Ravikumar, Mumbai
  233. Mini Mathew, Advocate, Mumbai
  234. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi
  235. Fatima N, Tamil Nadu
  236. Poorva Rajaram, Researcher, New Delhi
  237. Vanessa Chishti, Jindal Law University, Sonipat
  238. Esther Moraes, New Delhi
  239. Niti Saxena, Lawyer, Researcher, and Activist, Lucknow
  240. Tusharika Mattoo, Advocate, Delhi
  241. Maulshree Pathak, Advocate Delhi
  242. Shreya Munoth, Advocate, Delhi
  243. Sayali Kadu, Advocate, Delhi
  244. Shuchi Dwivedi, Advocate, Delhi
  245. Rhea Goyal, Advocate, Delhi
  246. Sowjhanya Shankaran, Advocate, Delhi
  247. Anushree Malviya, Advocate, Delhi
  248. Sonal Sarda, Advocate, Delhi
  249. Sanya Kumar, Advocate, Delhi
  250. Shreya Rastogi, Advocate, Delhi
  251. Harshita Reddy, Advocate, Delhi
  252. Sanjana Srikumar, Advocate, Delhi
  253. Avantika, Advocate Delhi
  254. Ninni Susan Thomas, Advocate Delhi
  255. Nidhi Rao Gummuluru, Advocate, Delhi
  256. Vasundhara Majithia, Advocate Delhi
  257. Meghana Sengupta, Advocate Delhi
  258. Shailiza Sharma, Advocate, Delhi High Court
  259. Kanika Sood, Advocate Delhi
  260. Kruti Venkatesh, Advocate, Bombay High Court
  261. Bhavana Sunder, Advocate, Bombay High Court
  262. Rhea Jha, Advocate, Bombay High Court
  263. Devyani Kulkarni, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
  264. Khusboo Agarwal, Bombay
  265. Sara Ahmed, Bombay
  266. Surabhi Singh, Advocate, High Court at Bombay
  267. Ronita Bhattacharya, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
  268. Jahnavi Vishwanath, Chennai
  269. Janaki Abraham, Delhi University
  270. Dimple Oberoi Vahali
  271. Vandana Mahajan, A Feminist Practitioner
  272. Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Citizen, Alibag, Maharashtra
  273. Chitra Sinha, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
  274. Vasudha Sawaiker, Social Justice Action Committee, Goa
  275. Amita Kanekar, Writer, Goa
  276. Adsa Fatima, Health Activist, Delhi
  277. Dr Mira Shiva
  278. Dr. Saswati Ghosh, Academic and Activist, Kolkata
  279. Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health and Gender Justice, Mumbai
  280. Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court
  281. Bindhulakshmi, Mumbai
  282. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad
  283. Ritu Menon, New Delhi
  284. Shraddha Chickerur, Hyderabad
  285. Svati Joshi, Ahmedabad
  286. Aruna Burte, Pune
  287. Malavika Karlekar, New Delhi
  288. Sujata Gothoskar, Trade Union Activist, Mumbai
  289. Nalini Nair, SEWA, Kerala
  290. Sangeeta Chatterji, FAOW
  291. Nisha, National Convenor, WSS
  292. Ajita, National Convenor, WSS
  293. Shalini, National Convenor, WSS
  294. Rinchin, National Convenor, WSS
  295. Hiranmay Karlekar, New Delhi
  296. Rina Mukerji, Independent Journalist
  297. Vibhuti Patel, Mumbai
  298. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
  299. Swarna Rajgopalan, Chennai
  300. Chittaroopa Palit, Madhya Pradesh
  301. Bondita Acharya, Human Rights Activist, Assam
  302. Bela Bhatia, Bastar
  303. AI Sharada, Laadli, Population First
  304. Amit Mitra, New Delhi
  305. Sujata Mody, National Secretary, New Delhi Trade Union Initiative
  306. M. Dilli, Joint Secretary, Garment and Fashion Workers Union, Chennai
  307. Anju Talukdar, Independent law and development professional, New Delhi
  308. Vidha Saumya, Visual Artist, Oshiwara, Mumbai
  309. Jasveen Jairath, Consultant, Water and Ecology, Concerned Citizens, Hyderabad
  310. Shreya Suresh, Advocate, Bangalore
  311. Sowmya Khandelwal, Associate at a Law Firm, Bangalore
  312. M.V. Swaroop, Advocate, Madras High Court
  313. Mangla Verma, Advocate, New Delhi
  314. Chitra Narayan, Advocate, Chennai
  315. Anusha Ramanathan, Visiting Faculty, University of Mumbai, Consultant, TISS
  316. Richa, Humsafar, Lucknow
  317. Sunila Singh, Woman Human Rights Defender, New Delhi
  318. Zainab, Humsafar, LucknowAfroz Jahan, Humsafar, Lucknow
  319. Anurekha, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  320. Lalita, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, Odisha
  321. Sister Lissy Joseph, National Domestic Workers Movement, Hyderabad
  322. Nikhat Fatima, Journal Activist
  323. Vasundhara Vedula, Mumbai
  324. Swatija Manorama, Mumbai
  325. Amrita Howlader, Kolkata
  326. Nazia Akhter, Hyderabad
  327. Swarup Beria, Guwahati
  328. Arpita Jaya, Quill Foundation
  329. Sheela Rahulan, Vanithakalasahithi, Trivandrum
  330. Dr. Iris Koileo, Assocaite Professor (Retd.), St. Xavier’s College,
  331. Women Writers Group, Vinimaya, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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