‘After This Report of The Inquiry Committee, Nobody Will Have Any Faith’: Complainant in Sexual Harassment Case Against CJI Gogoi
"Now I am sleepless thinking of what will happen next," she told The Caravan.
The former Supreme Court staffer who levelled charges of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has spoken up after the in-house committee enquiry awarded Gogoi a clean chit within days the report was also not made public.
Excerpts from the interviews:
- I told them I cannot hear with my right ear, sometimes I cannot hear from my left ear either. During the proceedings, they would ask me, “Do you understand?” I would say, “Lordship, can you please repeat?” You know, it scared me. How many times can I ask them to repeat? That was one of the reasons I was asking for a support person. But they did not allow that.
- (When I arrived for the proceedings) three or four policewomen searched and treated me as if I was a terrorist. They examined everything, made me open my hair, clothes, checked them in a rough manner. I was literally crying there and shouting.
- On the very first day, they (the judges) said, “We are not here as a sexual-harassment committee, it is not a departmental proceeding and it is not even an in-house proceeding. We are here just to work on your complaint.” It was very informal, you can say.
- They told me, “We can assure you no harm will come to you in your future.” Justice Bobde also said, “You know, you will get your job back.” To which I said, “No Lordship, I don’t want my job back. I just need justice. I’m not doing all this to get my job back. The victimisation after that incident, it should be stopped.
- Once I left the Supreme Court… my husband and I were chased by unknown people on a bike. Even on 26th, even on 29th, and 30th April… And it was really scary for me. I filed a complaint… at the Tughlaq Road police station. For that Justice Bobde said: “You have a large family and everybody is in police in your family. They should know how to protect you.”
- I was explaining each and everything, but after I finished speaking, it was Justice Bobde who was dictating what I was saying to the typist.
- … I knew I would not get justice from the way they were conducting the proceedings, the way they were asking questions. They were stuck on one question: why had I filed the complaint so late. I had given them a satisfactory reply, still they were asking the same question and saying that is not how it’s done, that is not how it’s done.
- I was completely disheartened (when came to know the committee said they didn’t find any substance in the allegations). Shocked. I have lost my job, I have lost everything. My family members have lost their jobs. So I felt it was a great injustice to me and my family. We were all shocked to learn that they just said there is “no substance.”
- After this report of the inquiry committee, nobody will have any faith (in the judicial process), in fact. Today, I can’t trust anybody. Everyone is going against me despite the fact that all that I have said is the truth.
- (Life has been) Very scary and threatening. Unknown people are going to my relatives’ houses. Two people went to my sister’s house… They introduced themselves as lawyers… They said I would be murdered.
- All our family members are tensed. So much has happened. Financial loss, of course, but mentally too, we all are disturbed. We all are scared about what might happen to us, and when. You never know. We are getting threats, unknown people are calling and enquiring about us, asking who is what in our family. Like the threats made at my sister’s house, trying to scare them that I will be murdered.
- Sleeplessness persists. Now I am sleepless thinking of what will happen next. I know that even in this other committee under Justice Patnaik I have no role. This is a story that is being concocted, to distract people and make them believe there are huge forces that have conspired in this matter. There is nothing like that.
The ex-staffer had withdrawn from the in-house committee proceedings claiming that it was not being conducted in a formal manner — the three-judge committee had told her that the proceedings were “informal”, that she didn’t have the right to a lawyer, that there would be no video recordings of the proceedings.
Following this, justice DY Chandrachud had written to Justice Bobde, requesting the committee not move forward without the complainant. Nevertheless, the panel passed an ex-parte decision absolving the CJI of the charges.
Protests have broken out against the court’s conduct — termed an abuse of power and in contravention of principles of natural justice by lawyers and activists across the country.