24th April 2019
Sexual Harassment at workplace – Supreme Court of India
A woman working as assistant in apex court in India, on oath in details, accused the present Chief Justice of India Mr. Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment. She further in details accused Judge for orchestrated a campaign of retaliation against her and her family when she refused his advances last October 2018. Judge has denied the charges against him, saying there were forces at work to “deactivate” the position of chief justice. The complainant woman and his other family members were dismissed from their respective jobs as victimization. The Supreme Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association, representing lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court of India, have been critical of the Chief Justice’s handling of the case against him; when Judge himself is judging cause against himself. One lawyer subsequently has alleged on oath that there is conspiracy against Judges. Bench of judges is examining this affidavit on conspiracy and summoned chiefs of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police in chamber to talk about conspiracy theory. Union minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday in his Facebook post said lending shoulder to Judge “completely unverified allegations coming from a disgruntled person with a not-so-glorious track record is aiding the process of destabilization of the institution of the Chief Justice of India.
The events and views expressed above, shows an inquisitive fact about what is cooking up in apex court. The allegation of woman cannot be ignored and must be examined without any biased. Judge is a human being who can be susceptible to wrong doings. The allegations of sexual harassment against Judge holding such high court is not new. Earlier a Law intern alleged sexual harassment by Justice AK Ganguly, a Judge in Supreme Court of India which Judge refuted. A three-member panel of SC judges had indicted Justice AK Ganguly on December 6, 2013 saying 'prima facie' found the allegations correct.
The complainant’s affidavit raises serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power of the office of CJI. The CJI must also explain the larger conspiracy angle he attached to the allegations – who would attack the judiciary and why?
The Supreme Court cannot continue in silence and wish away the complaint. The Internal Complaints Committee set up to deal with sexual harassment must look into the issue immediately. It is incumbent on the senior-most judges to ensure fair and transparent proceedings in the matter.
There is need to revive The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill which 15th Parliament of India in 2014 could not pass, which tries to lay down enforceable standards of conduct for judges. It also requires judges to declare details of their and their family members' assets and liabilities. Importantly, it creates mechanisms to allow any person to complain against judges on grounds of misbehavior or incapacity and subsequent discharge from the office. At present, even if allegations against a Judge are found to be true, Judge cannot be removed from office without impeachment proceedings in Parliament of India. Impeachment is a difficult process when parliamentarian are divided in fractions. Since independence in 1947, I do not think if any judge was ever impeached. I cannot believe that all Judges are morally correct and are competent to hold public office till retirement when society is full of corrupt practices.