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Friday 24 January 2020

CJI faces sexual exploitation charge; A-G suspects hit job

A special bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna will refer the case to another bench of which the accused judge won't be a part

New Delhi: Early Saturday morning, news consumers were hit by a report of sexual harassment and exploitation against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. A junior court attendant on October 2018 accused the CJI of exploiting her at his own residence and other places.

The complainant worked in the Supreme Court between 1 May 2014 and 21 December 2018 when her services were unceremoniously terminated. According to the alleged victim, her family was tormented by her termination, too.

Her husband and her brother are both head constables with the Delhi Police, who have suspended in the aftermath of the action against her — according to the former employee of the apex court. Her brother-in-law who worked in group D category in the court under the Chief Justice’s discretionary quota was terminated as well, without giving any reasons in January 2019.

A false FIR, the complainant says, was registered against her alleging that she had taken Rs 50,000 from a certain Naveen from Jhajjar in the court premises. She was arrested that night and her husband was handcuffed and beaten while not even being arrested.

The woman goes on to explain how the CJI made sexual advances on her at his own residence. In an affidavit that she sent to 22 judges, she explains how Gogoi held her waist and refused to let her go.

She explains why she didn’t make the complaint earlier as she was afraid of the consequences, but the unprecedented victimisation left her with no choice.

CJI, A-G, eminent legal personalities question the charge

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has denied all charges of sexual harassment. The CJI said that he was slated to hear some cases next week and that the allegation against him is the effort on the part of some elements to keep him away from those cases.

CJI Gogoi said that the complainant had had criminal cases lodged against her even at the time of her appointment. There are two cases against her husband too, the CJI added.

This has not happened in his 20-year long career, the CJI said. “I have just Rs 6,80,000 in my bank account,” the CJI said, adding that even his peon has more money.

Justice Gogoi said one’s esteem was paramount and that the only thing he had earned all his life was respect. He said that the judiciary could not be targeted in this manner.

How Supreme Court will deal with it

A special bench was constituted this morning, comprising CJI Gogoi, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. The bench said that the case of sexual harassment against the CJI would be referred to another bench where he would not be a member.

The CJI said the constitution of this bench is in keeping with his responsibilities.

The Supreme Court, in the meantime, has urged the media to act responsibly while not issuing any gag order to restrain the media from reporting the case or commenting on it. It said that the media should just ensure that the independence of the judiciary is not affected. The statement carries the name of Justices Mishra and Khanna.

14417_2019_Order_20-Apr-2019

This concern was expressed right after the allegation surfaced when the additional registrar of the Supreme Court put up a notice (image of the notice follows).

NOTICE20

Leftist, anti-government news websites have led the reporting on the issue zealously since the morning although they had championed his ’cause’ when he had joined three other senior judges of the Supreme Court in questioning his predecessor Dipak Misra.

Related

4 senior SC judges complain about CJI via press conference

Attorney-General KK Venugopal has come out in support of Justice Gogoi, saying the charge against the CJI could be a “blackmail tactic”.

For reports on Justice Ranjan Gogoi, visit this page.

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