SC Panel Gives Clean Chit to CJI Gogoi in Sexual Harassment Case

Justice Chandrachud’s letter took objection to the woman complainant being denied a lawyer.

Updated
Law
3 min read
CJI Ranjan Gogoi. 
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The three-judge in-house Supreme Court inquiry panel headed by Justice SA Bobde dismissed the complaint of sexual harassment against CJI Gogoi on Monday, 6 May.

A notice posted on the Supreme Court’s website said:

“The In-House Committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the Complaint dated 19.4.2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India.”

The notice added that the committee’s report “is not liable to be made public”.

The In-House Inquiry Committee has submitted its report dated 5 May, 2019 in accordance with the In-House procedure, to the next senior judge, after Justice Bobde who is competent to receive the report and also sent a copy to the judge concerned, namely the Chief Justice of India, it said.

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

Read the full report on allegations here.

Justice Chandrachud Met Justice Bobde, Demanded Full Court: Report

A day after the Supreme Court denied that justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud met Justice SA Bobde, who headed the in-house committee probing the allegations, The Indian Express on Monday, 6 May,cited sources in a report as saying that Justice Chandrachud had indeed met Justice Bobde to discuss the contents of the letter written by the former.

The new report, however, mentions the date of the meeting as 2 May and does not refer to Justice Rohintan Nariman. In its initial report dated 5 May, The Indian Express had cited sources as saying that “Justice Chandrachud, accompanied by Justice Rohintan Nariman, met the inquiry panel comprising Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee on Friday evening (3 May)”.

The latest report by the daily said that it “regrets the error”, but it is not entirely clear what error it is regretting.

Contents of the Letter

The follow-up report talks about the contents of the letter written by Justice Chandrachud to the inquiry committee in detail. In the letter, Justice Chandrachud has apparently demanded a full court for discussing various issues and suggested the inclusion of an external member, possibly a retired SC woman judge, in the panel.

The letter also took objection to the complainant being denied a lawyer, calling it a “serious denial of fair process”.

The sources that the daily spoke to also said that the letter was “written after informal consultations with more than 17 judges”, thus reflecting the broader mood in the Supreme Court.

The First Report and the Denial

The initial report by The Indian Express states that Justice Chandrachud had expressed the view that the three-member inquiry committee should not go ahead with the proceedings ex parte.

According to the report, Justice Chandrachud wrote to the three judges in the probe panel that the credibility of the SC would be further damaged if they decided to continue with the probe in the absence of the complainant.

Later, a statement issued from the office of the Supreme Court’s secretary general said that reports that the justices Chandrachud and Nariman met Justice Bobde on Friday evening were “wholly incorrect”.

It said that it is most unfortunate that a leading newspaper chose to state that the two judges met Justice Bobde.

Further the statement said that the in-house committee which is deliberating on the issue concerning the CJI deliberates on its own without any input from any other judge of the apex court.

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

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