CJI Case: SC Denies Justices Chandrachud, Nariman Met Panel to Raise Questions About In-House Hearings
The SC statement denied the meeting, but did not confirm or reject whether Justice Chandrachud had on May 2 written to the panel to suggest it should not continue the hearings without the woman complainant.
File photo of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi (Image: Twitter)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Sunday denied a media report that said Justices RS Nariman and DY Chandrachud had met Justice SA Bobde, who is heading the in-house inquiry panel on sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Calling the report in the Indian Express “most unfortunate”, the court said it is “wholly incorrect that the two judges met Justice Bobde on Friday evening” and stated that the in-house panel deliberates on its own without any input from any other judges of the apex court.
The SC statement denied the meeting, but did not confirm or reject whether Justice Chandrachud had on May 2 written to the three judges in the probe panel that the “credibility of the Supreme Court would be further damaged if they decided to continue with the probe in the absence of the complainant”, who has withdrawn from the inquiry.
Justice Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee are the other two judges on the three-member panel conducting an “informal” enquiry into the allegations against the CJI.
According to the Indian Express report, Justice Chandrachud suggested to the panel that it either accede to the complainant’s request to provide her with a lawyer or appoint an amicus curiae for the probe.
Justice Chandrachud is tenth in the list of seniority and in line to be the Chief Justice from 2022 to 2024.
Fifth in seniority among the judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Nariman is currently a member of the Collegium. He was earlier supposed to sit on the in-house inquiry panel but recused himself after the complainant said there could be a conflict of interest as he is a good friend of the CJI.
The inquiry committee had decided to continue the hearings in the absence of the complainant after she declared that she was withdrawing from the probe as she felt she would not get justice there after three hearings.
The former woman apex court staffer had levelled the allegations against the CJI which was brought into public domain by some news web portals on April 20. The woman had worked at Justice Gogoi's home office in Delhi and the allegations were carried by these news portals based on the affidavit by the woman to 22 SC judges.
In her affidavit, the woman described two incidents of alleged molestation, days after Justice Gogoi was appointed CJI last October and her subsequent persecution.
The woman alleged that she was removed from service after she rebuffed his "sexual advances". She claimed that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables, were suspended for a 2012 criminal case that had been mutually resolved.
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