New Delhi: The Supreme Court’s In-House Committee, led by Justice S.A. Bobde, has cleared Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of the sexual harassment allegations that were levelled against him by a former top court employee.
In its report submitted Sunday, the panel said it found “no substance” in the allegations.
The panel report was submitted to the next senior judge competent to receive it, said a press statement released by the court Monday.
The clean chit to the CJI comes after an Indian Express report noted “disquiet” among the judges of the top court. The Express reported that Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, slated to be the CJI in 2022, had written to the panel suggesting that the proceedings be halted since the complainant in the case had walked out of the inquiry.
Last week, the complainant refused to participate in the inquiry after she found “the atmosphere of the committee very frightening”.
The committee constituted by a full court resolution comprised Justices Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee. Malhotra replaced Justice N.V. Ramana — the third senior-most judge in the top court — who recused himself after the complainant accused him of being a close personal friend of the CJI.
Allegations and proceedings
On 19 April, the former employee of the Supreme Court alleged that she was sexually harassed by CJI Gogoi while she was posted at his residence.
Within days, the court constituted an In-House Committee to look into the allegations.
As she walked out of the proceedings last week, the complainant said, “…I was very nervous because of being confronted and questioned by three Supreme Court Judges and without even the presence of my lawyer/support person”.
The complainant’s decision came on the third day of the proceedings.
In her statement, she said she was compelled to walk out because the committee did not seem to appreciate the fact that this was no ordinary complaint — this was a complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI, and therefore, it was required to adopt a procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances she was placed in.
On Wednesday, a day after the complainant left the proceedings, the panel continued “ex-parte” and issued a notice to CJI Gogoi who responded to it.