New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued a press release denying reports that Justices Rohinton Nariman and D.Y. Chandrachud have asked the in-house committee probing the sexual harassment charges against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi not to continue proceedings without the involvement of the complainant.
The Indian Express reported Sunday that the two Supreme Court judges met the head of the panel, Justice S.A. Bobde, Friday evening and asked the committee not to continue proceedings ‘ex parte’, after the complainant last week refused to be part of the proceedings due to what she termed the “frightening” atmosphere of the committee.
“It is most unfortunate that a leading newspaper has chosen to state that Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud together met Justice S.A. Bobde on Friday evening i.e. on 3 May 2019. This is wholly incorrect. The in-house committee which is deliberating on the issue concerning Hon’ble Chief Justice of India deliberates on its own without any input from any other hon’ble judge of this court,” the press release signed by the Supreme Court’s secretary general said.
The in-house committee, led by Justice Bobde and also including Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, is probing allegations made by the former employee of the Supreme Court that CJI Gogoi sexually harassed her in October last year.
The Express report said that Justice Chandrachud had written to the panel members on 2 May that the credibility of the Supreme Court would be further damaged if they decided to continue with the probe in the absence of the complainant. He also reportedly suggested that the committee could either accede to the complainant’s request to provide her with a lawyer or appoint an amicus curiae for the probe.
Why the case is serious
Last Tuesday, after the committee’s third hearing, the complainant said she would take no further part in the inquiry proceedings, since the judges did not seem to appreciate that “this was no ordinary complaint”.
The next day, the committee decided to continue the matter ex parte, and issued a notice to CJI Gogoi, who appeared before it the same day.
Sources confirmed that the meeting went on for two hours, where the CJI denied all the allegations against him. Gogoi claimed there was no opportunity to meet the woman, and also responded to the questionnaire that was provided to him before his appearance.
The judges on the panel have been working on nothing else but the proceedings, and have not even attended court during the week. A source close to one of the judges said until the panel submits its report, it is expected that the judges will work on nothing else.
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