New Delhi: A day after the in-house inquiry committee gave a clean chit to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on allegations of sexual harassment, the complainant in the case has written to the panel seeking a copy of the final report in full.
In a letter addressed to the three judges on the panel — Justices S.A. Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee — the complainant referred to the press release issued by the apex court, where it said that the copy of the report would not be made public in light of its 2003 judgment.
“It appears from the press release that even I, the complainant, will not be provided with a copy of the report,” she wrote.
The former Supreme Court employee, who had made the accusations against CJI Gogoi last month, also pointed out that she was not apprised of the procedure that the inquiry committee would adopt to look into her complaint.
“The in-house proceeding rules are now being used to deny me and the public a right to the report,” she said. “Besides this, as is being reported by the media, if a copy of the report is being given to the CJI directly or indirectly, I am entitled to a copy thereof in any case.
“I find it rather strange that the complainant in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance, and that my complaint has been held by the committee to be this without giving me any reasons for the same.”
‘Shocked’ at the process
The probe panel was constituted by a full court resolution, and submitted its report to Justice Arun Mishra, the senior-most judge “competent to receive the report” Sunday, barely two weeks after the allegations were first made public. It found the woman’s allegations lacking in substance.
The complainant said she was “shocked” that the committee found “no substance” in her complaint and affidavit, despite her detailed affidavit, “ample corroborative evidence and clear, consistent statement before the committee” reiterating her experience of sexual harassment and consequent victimisation.
“I am shocked that the committee has come to an adverse finding against me despite the fact that I was compelled to withdraw from the committee since the committee did not observe even the most basic principles of natural justice,” she said.
“From the beginning, I have been treated as an outsider, I have not been informed of the procedure, I have not been informed of my basic rights and obligations with regard to the inquiry proceedings. From the beginning, there has been a lack of transparency in the functioning of the committee and great prejudice is being caused to me repeatedly.”
Contradicts the POSH Act
The 35-year-old woman relied on sections of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which provides that “both parties have a right to receive a copy of the report”.
“Not providing a copy to the complainant while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice,” the act states.
She further pointed out that the judgment relied upon by the Supreme Court secretary general in his press release was “given at a time prior to the Right to Information Act”.
“Even according to the full bench judgment of the Delhi High Court in the assets disclosure case, such a report should be accessible to any citizen under the RTI. The full bench had held that even assets of judges would be accessible under RTI to any citizen,” she said.
“In these circumstances, I request you to kindly provide me with a copy of the report since I have a right to know how, why and on what basis have your Lordships found my complaint to have ‘no substance’.”