The Women in Criminal Law Association stated the presence of only sitting judges on the prevailing committee raises a valid apprehension of bias.
The Women in Criminal Law Association on Thursday demanded that proper process is accompanied in the inquiry into the allegation of sexual harassment in opposition to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The complainant, who used to work as a junior courtroom assistant on the pinnacle court, wrote to 22 of its judges on April 19, alleging that Gogoi had made sexual advances on her at his house office on October 10 and eleven. In the affidavit, the female said that after she rebuffed the leader justice, she become moved out of his house office, in which she was published in August. Two months later, on December 21, she turned into brushed off from the carrier. One of the 3 grounds for dismissal, as detailed in an inquiry document, changed into that she had taken informal depart for one day without approval. She has alleged that her own family is being persecuted after the incident.
Gogoi denied the allegations in the course of a special listening to on April 20. The leader justice said he did no longer “deem it suitable” to answer to the allegations and that they have been part of a “larger plot”, possibly one to “deactivate the workplace of the CJI”. Gogoi said the lady has a criminal historical past, with cases against her.
The 3-member committee of the Supreme Court constituted to research the allegations is headed via Justice SA Bobde, and also contains Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra. Bobde is the maximum senior decide within the Supreme Court after the chief justice.
The association, in an open letter, stated the “In-House Procedure” that ought to govern an inquiry process when expenses of misconduct are raised against sitting judges of the court. The affiliation said the manner, however, does not provide for a mechanism to represent a committee whilst the complaint is in opposition to the leader justice.
Referring to the ideas of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the affiliation said the committee has to have an outside impartial member with the revel in within the subject of fighting sexual harassment. The contributors of the panel should additionally be unfastened from any bias, prejudice or impact of both the complainant or the respondent, it stated. The present case needs to be inquired into by way of retired justices in addition to outside participants of civil society, the lawyers stated.
“The presence of simplest sitting judges on the present committee increases a legitimate apprehension of bias given the close interplay required between puisne judges and the CJI in the everyday functioning of the Supreme Court,” it said.
Since the occasions of twentieth April, in which the Chief Justice of India answered to sexual harassment allegations against himself with the aid of speaking from the Bench after instituting a suo moto writ petition, numerous developments have came about at the Supreme Court, inclusive of the putting in of a 3-member committee through Justice Bobde (the second one senior-most decide) comprising of himself, Justice N. V. Ramana (the third senior-maximum choose) and Justice Indira Banerjee, to behavior an inquiry into the complaint. Recent news reports kingdom that Justice N. V. Ramana has recused himself from the committee and has been changed with the aid of Justice Indu Malhotra. The complainant has also written to the panel requesting its reconstitution. While the appointment of Justice Indu Malhotra (the prevailing Chairperson of the GSICC) is reassuring, certain essential worries regarding concepts that should govern the composition and running of the committee remain. The Court must comply with its very own standards laid down in Vishaka and Ors. V. State of Rajasthan and Ors., [1997 6 SCC 241] and now incorporated within the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) whilst framing the advert-hoc manner within the present case.