SC In-House Committee Decision to Withhold Report ‘Appears to Have No Reason or Legal Base’: Ex-CIC Sridhar Acharyulu
""...public interest gives rise to a right of public to know and hence the report should have been made public."
New Delhi: Former Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu has advocated making public the report of the Supreme Court’s in-house inquiry committee which looked into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the Chief Justice of India by a former woman employee of the apex court, saying the decision to withhold the finding “appears to have no reason or legal base”.
“The people of this country are informed that the in-house committee of Supreme Court consisting of three judges has cleared Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment allegations raised by a former employee claiming ‘no substance’ in the complaint,” he said.
According to the CJI and other dignitaries, there is a “larger conspiracy” behind this allegation, Acharyulu said.
“…public interest gives rise to a right of public to know and hence the report should have been made public after redacting the details if need not be disclosed, especially in complaints like sexual harassment,” he said.
The three-member committee had on Monday given clean chit to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, saying it “found no substance” in the allegations. The apex court administration later said the report “is not liable to be made public”, citing the verdict in the 2003 case of Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India.
Acharyulu said, “As per Indira Jaising order, the enquiry into Mysore incident was informal and only to gather some information from colleague judges, but in this case, it is a statutorily mandated inquiry and it is not opinion collection or information gathering.”
The former Information Commissioner said the publication of the report, under any stretch of imagination, cannot impede the inquiry or prosecution or apprehension of any accused or any other person in this case and cannot be withheld from the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
“When a judgement given by the courts in a rape case could be made public without mentioning the name of the victim, with all details of examination of witnesses, and their cross examination, prohibiting the report of an internal inquiry committee appears to have no reason or legal base,” he said.
Immediately after the office of apex court’s Secretary General came out with the findings of the committee on Monday, the woman issued a press statement saying that she was “highly disappointed and dejected”.
“The in-house committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the complaint dated April 19, 2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. Please take note that in case of Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India and Anr (2003), it has been held that the report of a committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public,” the notice said.