Sexual Harassment Case: SC In-house Committee Clears CJI Gogoi, Won’t Make Report Public
Justice DY Chandrachud had asked the committee to not proceed without the complainant as it would damage the reputation of the SC.
The Supreme Court in-house committee that was probing the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, on May 6 cleared him of the charges and said there was “no substance” in the allegations of the former SC employee.
As per a notification shared by Bar and Bench reporter Murali Krishnan, the report of “a committee constituted as part of an in-house procedure is not liable to be made public.”
— Murali Krishnan (@legaljournalist) May 6, 2019
Last month, three major news outlets had 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 comprising Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee 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.”
The Indian Express had reported on May 5 that 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”.
The report said 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.
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.