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Monday, May 6, 2019
Either Provide Victim With Lawyer Or Appoint Amicus Curiae For Probe: Justices Chandrachud, Nariman Reportedly Tell In-House Committee Probing CJI Sexual Harassment Case
The Supreme Court has denied this.
Justice Chandrachud. (PC: Fb@KarthickKumar)
In what could be considered an unusual and bold move, Justice DY Chandrachud, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, has asked the in-house panel probing allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to not proceed with the inquiry “ex parte”.
Sushant Singh of The Indian Expressreported on May 5 that as per well-placed sources, Chandrachud, accompanied by Justice Rohinton Nariman, met the inquiry panel comprising Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee on the evening of May 3. The two judges reportedly discussed their concerns about the ongoing probe with the panel.
The report added that on May 2, Justice Chandrachud wrote to the three judges in the probe panel saying that should they decide to continue with the probe in the absence of the complainant, who has withdrawn from the inquiry, the credibility of the apex court would be damaged.
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He further suggested that the committee could either accede to the complainant’s request to provide her with a lawyer or appoint an amicus curiae for the probe. Last month, three major news outlets reported that a 35-year-old woman who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court (SC) had written in a sworn affidavit, sent to 22 judges, that CJI Ranjan Gogoi had allegedly made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11, 2018. The victim alleged that her family too was harassed.
Immediately after the reports of sexual harassment went public, a bench led by CJI Gogoi put out an order signed by two other judges saying this was part of a “conspiracy”. A three-judge in-house committee was constituted to probe the allegations.
However, on April 30, the victim said in a statement that she would not participate in the proceedings of the in-house committee anymore, alleging that the committee was not operating in a fair manner. She wrote, “Due to serious concerns and reservations, I am no longer participating in these in-house committee proceedings. I joined and participated in the Committee proceedings in good faith on 26th and 29th April 2019 with the hope that this committee would proceed in a manner that is fair to me and sensitive to my circumstances.” Following this, the inquiry committee decided to proceed “ex parte” — carry on in her absence.
The Supreme Court has denied that Justices DY Chandrachud and Rohinton Nariman met Justice SA Bobde.