New Delhi: When the Supreme Court of India was plunged into an unprecedented crisis in April after the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment, the apex court swiftly ordered an investigation into the allegations.
At the same time, it had also appointed a one-man panel of former SC judge, Justice A.K. Patnaik (retd) on 25 April, to probe the allegations of a larger conspiracy to frame the CJI and fixing of benches in the court.
While the first probe, conducted by a three-judge internal panel of Justices S.A. Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, quickly conducted hearings and dismissed the sexual harassment allegations against Gogoi, there has been no update on the progress of the Patnaik probe.
Sources privy to the proceedings of the Patnaik panel have told ThePrint that “the report is still under progress and since there is no deadline given, it would take time”.
“The panel was awaiting the report of the in-house committee formed by the SC,” said the source.
“As the report has been submitted, the former judge is now looking into the matter. Since there is no deadline, the report will take some time to be finalised.”
The three-member committee had submitted its report, in which it cleared the CJI of all charges, in May.
The report was not made public but was submitted to the CJI.
ThePrint got in touch for an official confirmation from the office of Justice A.K. Patnaik (retd) but officials there declined to comment.
The larger conspiracy angle
The Patnaik panel was formed after a Delhi-based lawyer, Utsav Bains, filed an affidavit in April stating he had the knowledge of the chain of events that led to charges of sexual harassment being levelled against CJI Gogoi by a woman who had worked at his home office in Delhi.
Bains had in an affidavit alleged that the harassment charge against the CJI was part of a larger conspiracy “hatched by a large corporate house in connivance with a sacked court staff to implicate the CJI” and “fix benches” and “verdicts” in the top court.
Bains had also claimed he was offered a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore to “frame” Gogoi.
The Supreme Court had then ordered that the affidavit filed by Bains be transferred to Justice Patnaik (retd) in a sealed cover. It had also then stated that “directors of CBI, IB and the Delhi police commissioner would render cooperation to Justice Patnaik (retd) as and when required during his inquiry”.
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