Activists, Lawyers Protest Outside SC Against Clean Chit to CJI in Sexual Harassment Case; 55 Detained
About 30 women were detained during the demonstration where protesters demanded a fair probe into the allegations levelled by a former Supreme Court staffer.
New Delhi: Several activists and lawyers protested outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a day after a three-member in-house inquiry panel formed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to probe the sexual harassment charges against him gave him a clean chit.
Fifty-five protesters, mostly women lawyers and activists, were detained during the demonstration where protesters demanded a fair probe into the allegations levelled by a former Supreme Court staffer.
On Monday, the panel led by Justice SA Bobde said the report has been submitted to the Chief Justice and the next senior judge of the top court, and said that as it was an informal inquiry, it is "not liable to be made public". "The in-house inquiry committee has found no substance in the allegations in the complaint dated April 19 of a former employee of the Supreme Court," the Supreme Court said in a statement. Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra were the other two judges on the panel.
The former woman apex court staffer had in an affidavit sent to 22 SC judges described two incidents of alleged molestation, days after Justice Gogoi was appointed CJI last October, and her subsequent persecution. The woman, who had worked at Justice Gogoi's home office in Delhi, alleged she was removed from service after she rebuffed his "sexual advances".
She had withdrawn from the in-house inquiry on April 30 after its third in-chamber hearing, saying that she felt she was unlikely to get any justice there. The former SC employee had raised concerns about she not being allowed to take her lawyer to the hearing, the fact that there was no video or audio recording of the committee proceedings, and that she was not supplied even a copy of her statements during the first two sittings on April 26 and 29.
Chief Justice Gogoi had appeared before the panel as the court had decided to go ahead with the inquiry even after the complainant opted out. He had dismissed the allegations against him as a serious threat to the judiciary’s independence and a plot aimed at attacking the office of the CJI. A parallel inquiry into the "conspiracy angle" is also being conducted by former SC judge AK Patnaik.
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