New Delhi: The family of the woman who has accused the Chief Justice of India of sexually harassing her wants the issue to be taken to its “logical end” and ensure that justice is done even though the woman has refused to participate in the in-house inquiry by Supreme Court judges.
“We want all those behind this conspiracy to be punished,” the woman’s husband told ThePrint in an exclusive interview, amid indications that the three judges probing the allegations could submit their report soon, probably as early as this weekend.
The woman’s husband is a Delhi Police head constable who has been suspended along with his younger brother as both are facing departmental inquiries in separate cases. The husband for allegedly calling the office of the CJI, and his brother for allegedly concealing a 2015 police complaint against him over “unruly behaviour”, it has been reported.
Lawyers ‘prevented a suicide’
Asked what encouraged them to proceed with a formal affidavit against CJI Gogoi and go public about it, the complainant’s husband gave credit to their lawyers. Had it not been for them, “perhaps there would have been a suicide in this house in the last two months”, he said.
Because the complainant was a former Supreme Court employee, she knew “the right lawyers” to speak to, and confided in those she felt she could trust, he said.
“It was at this point that lawyers like Prashant Bhushan reinforced our faith in the system, and kept our hope of getting justice alive,” he said, thankful for the “guidance and consultation” offered by Bhushan and the support given to the complainant by her counsel Vrinda Grover.
The husband said he and his wife had several sittings with a team of lawyers over a number of days beginning 9 April, and they decided to file an affidavit after a few days.
The ‘frightening’ atmosphere
The 35-year-old woman withdrew from the inquiry committee’s proceedings Tuesday after three hearings, citing a “frightening” atmosphere, and her husband said that in itself speaks of the harassment that she and the entire family have faced.
“The intimidation continues till date. When we would return from the panel’s proceedings, people would follow us on motorcycles. Each time I tried to turn my car and check who they were, they would disappear. I could faintly read the bikes’ number plates,” he alleged.
He said that while the CJI was given a detailed questionnaire ahead of his appearance before the committee, the complainant was never provided any such option. Instead, she was put in an environment before the judges which she found difficult to cope with, especially because she was not allowed to have her lawyer for company.
“She has worked in the same institution, and it was very stressful for her to speak about the allegations to these judges all alone. She didn’t feel comfortable,” he said, referring to his daily telephonic conversations with his wife.
‘Things went from bad to worse’
Sitting in his government flat, the husband narrates how he goes to the police station at 10 am and 5 pm every day to mark his attendance, even while he is suspended. His wife, he said, is being taken care of by her lawyers.
Their eight-year-old daughter, who is about to return from school at this hour, has been told her mother is unwell and hospitalised, but he does try and make the two meet whenever possible.
The husband said it isn’t easy for him to see the distress his wife is in, especially given that the stress has impaired her hearing. But as far as the alleged incident of sexual harassment is concerned, he said he made his peace with it as soon as she confided in him.
“I remember telling her to let go, and that we would move on as a family. But things went from bad to worse over time,” he said, adding there were many instances of intimidation and harassment dealt out to him and other family members. Their house now has cameras everywhere to ensure they aren’t threatened.
“Be it my suspension order or my brother’s or the fake criminal case they lodged against her (the complainant) only last month, there were signs everywhere. There are several departmental inquiries marked against me and my brother,” he said, adding that even if one odd was justified, the others were part of a larger “plan” to put pressure on the family.
Asked about Naveen Kumar, the Haryana man who has filed a cheating complaint against his wife, the head constable said the fact that Kumar is “absconding” speaks volumes about the “authenticity” of the complaint.