We, attorneys, scholars, and contributors of women’s groups and civil society are greatly surprised at reading the contents of the grievance of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation suffered via a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. An affidavit changed into submitted via the aggrieved girl to the 22 judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court detailing the sexual harassment faced by way of her from none less than the Chief Justice of India. The 29 pages-lengthy affidavits defined how she turned into published in the workplace of the Chief Justice, systematically pursued at her home and office via calls and messages, encouraged to start with compliments, favors, and immoderate attention, eventually followed by way of sexual advances. The administrative persecution each by way of termination of employment, and registration of criminal cases against her and her family participants got here upon her whilst she rejected the sexual advances made via the Chief Justice.
While the allegations listed inside the affidavit are surprising, similarly worrisome turned into the reaction of the Chief Justice: aside from denying the prices, he constituted a Special Bench at the side of other Judges at 10.30 am to pay attention a count of “outstanding public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary”. In quick, he constituted a Bench to listen to his very own case! Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who has been part of the mainly constituted Bench, referred to that they may now not pass an Order, however nevertheless did so. Referring to the allegations as “wild and scandalous”, they went on to mention that such allegations negate the independence of the Judiciary. They also suggested the media to look at restraint. Strangely, the Order did no longer name the presence of the Chief Justice at whose example the Special Bench become convened.
Further, there has been nothing inside the Order which indicated that the Judges surpassed this Order primarily based upon an investigation by an equipped authority.
We are each taken aback and saddened that the Chief Justice of India in addition to the Special Bench has spoken back as maximum men, in public workplace or in positions of authority and power do, whilst accused of sexual misconduct. Denial of the allegations, maligning the complainant, mentioning beyond histories, imputing ulterior motives to the complainant are familiar and normal gadgets deployed by way of accused men. Equally commonplace is the mission of vindictive measures together with administrative harassment and fits of defamation against complainants.
Not most effective have the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court of India no longer set an example by means of their conduct, however, they appear to have moved a step beforehand to delegitimize girls’ complaints of sexual harassment – they have declared that the allegation is itself an try to tarnish the independence of the Judiciary. This is both indefensible and appalling. We miss out on what this has to do with the independence of the Judiciary, which we desire to uphold as conscientious residents, however, this ought now not to be interpreted to intend immunity from research while allegations are made.
The Bar Council of India has rubbished the grievance as a try and malign the Judiciary and termed it politically motivated. In the absence of a duly conducted investigation or inquiry, we are at a loss for words about how the BCI, attorneys, and judges are concluding with such haste that the grievance is false, baseless and influenced. On 24th April it’s been stated that Justice Bobde, the following senior maximum decide from
Supreme court docket has been requested by means of the CJI to appoint a committee which will inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment towards the CJI.
Justice Bobde has appointed a committee with himself as chair and Justice N V Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee as members. The constitution of this committee and not using an outside member is in whole violation of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013. Media reports that this committee will start listening to on Friday twenty-sixth April 2019 and that it
has no constant time body wherein to complete the lawsuits, will comply with an in house process and could now not permit felony representation to either event. While the Mr. Ranjan Gogoi won’t want legal representation, this is tilting the balance towards the complainant, again violating the spirit of the Vishakha judgment and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013.