NLU Rubbishes Report of Topper Not Receiving Medal From CJI Gogoi

The topper was marking her protest over SC’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

3 min read
NLU Rubbishes Report of Topper Not Receiving Medal From CJI Gogoi

In a press statement, the National Law University, Delhi, has termed the report of LLM topper Surbhi Karwa skipping her convocation ceremony to protest against the SC’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi, as one appearing to be "based on incorrect facts and information".

The statement refers to the report in The Indian Express that Karwa missed the ceremony on Saturday, 17 August, to protest the issue.

The daily, in its report, had quoted her as saying, “Everything I learnt in the classroom put me in a moral quandary over the last few weeks on whether I should receive the award from CJI Gogoi. The institution he heads failed when sexual harassment allegations were made against him.”


'University Highly Perturbed, Unnecessary Inconvenience to CJI'

Seeking to refute the report, a press note issued by the Vice Chancellor of NLU Delhi said, "As per the scheme of award finalised by the University, no medal was to be awarded to LLM topper by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. Nor did the University ever make any such communication to any student including Surabhi Karwa. In fact the said topper was to receive the medal from Vijay Dev, Chief Secretary, Delhi NCT. The medals were also given by the other dignitaries present. [sic]"

Claiming that Karwa never intimated her concerns to the university, the statement said that the university was "highly perturbed over this instance as it has caused an unnecessary inconvenience to the Chief Justice of India".

“The name of Surabhi Karwa was called as matter of required protocol of the Convocation and it was mentioned that her medal was awarded ‘in absentia’ as the University had no information about her plans to attend the Convocation or sending anybody else on her behalf to receive the award.”
Press note by Vice Chancellor, NLU Delhi

The VC said that the matter would be taken up by the University with "utmost sincerity" and all necessary measures would be made in this direction.

In The Indian Express report, Karwa had said that she was "seeking answers" for her role as a lawyer and how she can guard constitutional values. While she did not attend the event, she stressed that she was not refusing the award, according to the newspaper.

She has specialised in constitutional law for her master’s degree and her thesis is reportedly a feminist critique of the Constituent Assembly debates, with the focus being on whether the Constitution is a feminist document.

The CJI’s Address

Addressing the graduating students in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel, the CJI said:

“Say no and a big no to anything and everything that appear to your mind to be morally and actually regressive. Say yes to everything which you think can be offered to anybody,” Gogoi said.

The CJI also spoke on the importance of the quality of legal education and quoted from eminent lawyer Fali Nariman's autobiography which said, "The quality of legal education is more important than the number of lawyers. One of the most serious aspects facing the legal profession is that the legal education system appears to have lost its ethical content".


Allegation Against CJI Gogoi

A 35-year-old woman accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment on 19 April.

The former junior court assistant had submitted an affidavit to 22 judges of the Supreme Court, outlining how Gogoi sexually harassed her, and how she was further victimised and dismissed from her post.

The apex court in-house probe committee, comprising three apex court judges, concluded that there was “no substance” in her claims. The complainant, however, boycotted the probe, claiming that she was not allowed legal representation.

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

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