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Independence of judiciary under threat, says CJI after sexual harassment charges against him

Supreme Court convenes a special bench to counter the harassment charges against the CJI, asks media to exercise restraint in reporting the 'unverified charges'.

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New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Saturday denied the sexual harassment charges, levelled against him by a former Supreme Court staffer, suggesting that vested interests were threatening the independence of the judiciary.

“All I would like to say is that undoubtedly every employee is treated fairly and decently,” CJI Gogoi said at a special bench hearing of the Supreme Court. “This employee was there for a month and a half. The allegations came and I didn’t deem it appropriate to reply to them.”

The Supreme Court assembled the special bench Saturday barely hours after the story broke of the former court staffer’s allegations of sexual harassment. The 35-year-old woman, who reports said worked as a junior court assistant in the Supreme Court, had written to 22 judges of the apex court Friday, alleging that the CJI had sexually harassed her at his residence last year.

The special bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, was assembled after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urgently mentioned the matter before the registry.

Speaking from the bench, CJI Gogoi said the independence of the judiciary was under grave threat.

“There are two offices that are absolutely independent,” he said. “The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and that of the Chief Justice of India. They want to deactivate this (the CJI) considering the sensitive cases lined up next week. And the elections.”

The CJI is scheduled to hear next week a contempt petition against Congress president Rahul Gandhi, a plea relating to the release of Modi biopic and a petition seeking deferment of elections in Tamil Nadu on the charge of huge bribes being paid to voters.

Also read: Karnataka judge case: Govt asks CJI if fair probe done into sexual harassment allegations

No graft charges so being targetted this way: CJI

The CJI Gogoi further said that he was being targeted in this manner as there are no corruption charges against him. “This is unbelievable,” he said. “I don’t think I should stoop so low.”

“After 20 years of service, I have a bank balance of Rs 6.80 lakh. Check it,” he said. “I have Rs 40 lakh in my Provident Fund (PF). I used to earn more money as a lawyer. Here I am on the verge of retirement and this is what I get.”

“Nobody can touch me on money, so they find this,” he added. “This is the reward the CJI gets. This I felt should be told from the judicial seat.”

He also reiterated his warning that the judiciary was under threat. “The independence of the judiciary is under a very serious threat,” Gogoi said. “It’s pathetic. Judges are to work under these conditions. That is why I said good people (lawyers) are not coming to this side (judicial). Who will come?”

The Chief Justice also said that he will not resign over the charges and will “sit in this chair and discharge my functions without any fear”.

“I will decide what I have to in the remaining seven months I have here,” he added. Gogoi is slated to retire later this year.

Bench asks media to exercise restraint

While it did not pass any judicial order, the special bench appealed to the media to exercise restraint and wisdom in reporting the “unverified charges against the CJI, which would undermine the independence of the judiciary”.

“We are not passing any judicial order but leaving it to media to act responsibly to ensure that independence of judiciary it protected,” the bench said. It also said an appropriate bench (of other judges) will hear the sexual harassment allegations against the Chief Justice.

The CJI recused from passing the orders. He, however, named the four web portals that ran the story and said that a common thread ran among them.

Also read: Govt hits back at Chelameswar letter: Karnataka judge probe didn’t check sexual harassment


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  1. The woman has done it under political help to make the CJI Ranjan Gogai resign and hence should be strongly condemned and not taken seriously. There is no way she is right. The politicians of the day do not want the CJI to give fair justice to the cases coming up for hearing this week. All is well in Gods name. Hope the good Lord Ganesha blesses all of us Indians and removes all obstacles to justice and fairness in this country. Om ganapataye namha.

  2. The independence of the judiciary is not under threat. Mr. Gogoi’s personal liberty is at threat as the allegations are cognisable in nature and an FIR must be lodged in such cases. He is scared that now the country knows about his wrongdoing and is trying to hide behind his chair. What would happen if such an allegation was made against a common man? Mr. Gogoi must resign if he has any degree of morality left inside him.

  3. earlier when such allegations were made against middle level Govt. officials, they were asked to face the music, and prove them selves innocent,
    this time Sexual harassment charges is alleged against CJI, He must follow the convention and prove him self innocent.
    If this is attack on judiciary then earlier allegations which were framed against common govt officials, were attack on GOI ?
    If judiciary can not work in this environment, then how a common Govt. official, After all society practices are common for all branches of Govt. Dept.
    Why so much hype this time ?
    Pl recall Mr. M.J. Akbar
    He was simply advised to quit and prove himself innocent, no judiciary person objected then, WHAT IS THIS DOUBLE STANDARD IN THIS COUNTRY?
    After all a Judge can better defend himself than a common GOVT. employee.

  4. CJI is right. One just has to see the portals & people behind the accusation they are wire, quaint & lawyers like Indira Jaising. We know which political party they are with. This is repeat of last year when Congress threatened then CJI with impeachment. It is clear that it secularist Jamat is behind the conspiracy to make CJI do their bidding.

  5. Even if the CJI wants the case to be probed thoroughly, it can be done so only to the extent the Narendra Modi government wants to do it. Delhi police is merely a pawn, and so is the CBI. Who is there to do the impartial probe? We are living in very dark times, but I am sure the pall of darkness will lift within a month! The new government will have to do a lot of “spring cleaning”.

  6. The CJI sullied the credibility of the court through his mutiny against the then CJI. All we have now is just a case sexual harassment, which needs to be investigated like any other criminal case. The CJI should come out clean about his relation with the accuser.

  7. Sexual harassment allegations have been made against the Chief Justice of India.

    The CJI in his defence alleges an elaborate conspiracy out to denigrate the institution.

    Considering that the CJI was part of the unprecedented press conference last year by 4 sitting SC judges — demanding transparency in case allotments, he should go the extra length to ensure justice is not only done — but as the old adage goes , crucially — seen to be done.

    On a related note why is that when there is an allegation against a person, the larger institution is asserted to be under attack. (A flamboyant editor now out on bail when charged with sexual assault of a female colleague immediately blames a political party….”Editor drops his pants, blames political party”)

    Btw, the CJI last Dasshera was “inconvenienced” on a visit to the Kamakhya temple. Promptly the state govt suspended the deputy commissioner!! So much for aam aadmi…equality before the law.

  8. Pungent fumes billow out from the supreme court. A trumped up story can bulldoze the law of contempt. This is the art to trail judges like puppies on leash. Why the judges crouch in a fetal position . Thank god that she has not made an allegation that judges entered her house with,sickle, bicycle chain and wooden logs.

  9. The previous CJI faced an impeachment motion, managed to retire peacefully. Now this. When the honorable CJI says the independence of the judiciary is under threat, that suggests someone is setting up the complainant, whose extended family has seen a lot of harassment over the last few months. So who is propping her up – the government, the opposition, corporate interests, or even the foreign hand. Had it been any other senior public functionary facing such a situation, proceeding on leave would have been the appropriate course of action. Coupled with an enquiry into the allegations that inspires confidence.

  10. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala(Punjab)

    India is a nation now where anything can happen and nothing can be ruled out !

    This fresh tale in question bears testimony to this fact !

    casualties in the Indian Polity-Society ?

    I have not an iota of doubt that devilish tendencies are on the rise and the nation is in
    for a deep pell-mell !

    If charges of sexual harassment can be levelled against the Chief Justice of India where
    and in which direction nation is heading towards ? Are not these are quite mindboggling
    questions ?

    It can thus be said that coming sinister events in India are forecasting their shadows in
    advance !

    What next, who knows ?

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  11. It is always possible to disentangle the personal from the official. While an allegation of this nature should be handled with sensitivity and discretion, the status of someone who finds himself in an awkward position should not result in the matter being hushed up. That happened with one former judge of the apex court, later head of the NGT, who obtained a gag order and ensured the matter sank without a trace.

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