Justice Indu Malhotra Inducted into SC Panel Probing Sexual Harassment Charges Against CJI Gogoi
The move came after Justice NV Ramana recused himself from the panel after the complainant objected to his presence, claiming he was 'a close friend' of CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
File photo of Justice Indu Malhotra. (Image: PTI)
New Delhi: Justice Indu Malhotra of the Supreme Court will replace Justice NV Ramana in the three-member panel constituted for an in-house inquiry into the sexual harassment charges levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a former Supreme Court staffer.
The panel is headed by Justice SA Bobde and also has Justice Indira Banerjee.
Earlier on Thursday, Justice Ramana recused himself from the panel after the complainant objected to his presence and had claimed he was a "close friend of the CJI and like a family member to him" and used to frequently visit his residence. The woman was supposed to appear before the panel on Friday.
The complainant had also pointed out that on April 20, the day her affidavit was sent to the 22 Supreme Court judges, Justice Ramana had dismissed her allegations while speaking in Hyderabad.
In a letter to Justice Bobde, she also raised question over the presence of only one woman apex court judge — Indira Banerjee — in the panel to examine her allegations against the CJI which is not in accordance with Vishaka Guidelines.
She said that as per the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka judgement, for holding inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment at work place, the committee must have a majority of women.
According to an official, the woman wrote, "I would humbly suggest that since I was posted in the CJI's residence office, I know that Justice Ramana is a close friend of the CJI and is like a family member to him.
"Justice Ramana is a frequent visitor to the residence of the CJI. Because of this I fear that my affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing."
The woman had also asked the panel to allow her to appear before it along with a lawyer and the proceedings of the committee be video recorded so that there can be no dispute about what transpired in the inquiry.
In the letter, the official said, the woman expressed concern over the statements made by the CJI when he sat on a bench on Saturday along with Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna.
The committee headed by Justice Bobde, the senior-most apex court judge, was appointed Tuesday and he inducted Justices Ramana and Banerjee into it.
"I decided to have Justice Ramana in the panel as he is next to me in the seniority and Justice Banerjee as she is a woman judge," he had said on Tuesday. "This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding."
He had clarified that there is no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on "what comes out of the inquiry" which will be "confidential".
(With PTI inputs)
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