‘Harassment Charge Against CJI Gogoi Very Serious’: Karuna Nundy
Allegations of sexual harassment have cropped up against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. This prompted the CJI to convene an urgent and extraordinary hearing on Saturday, 20 April, where he asserted that the charges made by a former apex court staffer were "unbelievable" and part of a conspiracy by some "bigger force" to "deactivate" the CJI's office.
Speaking on this matter, Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy told The Quint that the allegations against the CJI are indeed “extremely serious” and “unprecedented”.
“What has happened today is extremely serious and, of course, it is unprecedented. The reason it is really, really important to address it properly is because every woman in this country should know that even if a junior court assistant makes such a serious allegations against the highest decision maker in the country, she has a chance of getting justice. That she will get justice,” Nundy said.
She further said that prima facie, one should believe what the woman is saying.
“There is a very, very strong tendency to disbelieve the person who is complaining. Not just because of patriarchy, but also because there tends to be a massive power imbalance between the person who is making the allegations and the person who is being accused.”
On CJI Conducting a Hearing
The apex court lawyer said that the CJI, speaking his version from the constitutional office was “unconscionable.”
“The CJI speaking his version from his constitutional office was unconscionable - a mistake, perhaps, but one that really dents public trust in a fair hearing by the Tribunal that ultimately decides the issue,” she added.
Nundy said that in such a case, there should be a decision-making authority that does not fall under the CJI, stressing that it “shouldn't be a junior bench of the Supreme Court either.”
As the allegations by the former woman staffer, who had worked at Gogoi's home office in Delhi in October, stunned the judiciary, Gogoi said he would not stoop too low even to deny them.
"I do not think I should stoop too low even to deny these allegations. But that comes after 20 years of selfless service as a judge," said Gogoi.
"Nobody can catch me on money. People have to find something and they have found this," the CJI said, while making it clear that he has a bank balance of Rs 6.80 lakh apart from around Rs 40 lakh in provident fund after being in service for around two decades.
On this, Nundy said, "As a judge, you give up a lot. As lawyers, we make significantly more money than the judges. You have power and job satisfaction... but the one thing you have is your reputation if you have been honest. And the toxic whispers around that reputation needs to be addressed in a forum that is fair."
(With inputs from PTI)