New Delhi: Taking up the sexual harassment charges against CJI Ranjan Gogoi Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to advocate Utsav Bains, who has claimed that the allegations stem from a “conspiracy” to make India’s top judge resign.
Bains was not present in court as a three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra took up his plea along with the original allegations, taking forward the hearing it began suo motu Saturday.
The Supreme Court has directed Bains to be in court Wednesday, and also furnish evidence to support the claims he made in his plea.
According to Bains, a “fixer” had approached him to take up the alleged victim’s case for a fee of Rs 1.5 crore, which he turned down after he “discovered” loopholes in the narrative offered.
In his plea, Bains has alleged that a corporate figure attempted to influence a top court judge by offering him a bribe to get an order in his favour. However, he was unsuccessful and subsequently teamed up with a “fixer” named Romesh Sharma and his aides — who were allegedly disgruntled by Gogoi’s crackdown on fixers who seek to influence judgments for cash — to get the CJI to resign.
Bains said he was privy to the identity of this corporate figure and would submit the details of the scam in a sealed cover “should it [the court] so direct him”.
The hearing Tuesday came days after a former apex court staffer accused CJI Gogoi of sexually harassing her while she was posted at his residence. The 35-year-old married woman had stated the allegation in a letter sent to 22 judges of the Supreme Court Friday.
A day later, the apex court assembled a three-judge special bench where CJI Gogoi addressed the issue. Denying the charges levelled against him, the top judge alleged that vested interests were threatening the independence of the judiciary.
Since then, CJI Gogoi’s presence on the bench has drawn sharp criticism from various sections of the bar. Even as the Bar Council of India (BCI) and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bar Association stood by the top judge, several other advocates’ bodies and activists have condemned the CJI’s handling of the issue.
In an about turn, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) issued a letter Monday, saying that the procedure adopted by the CJI to address the issue violated the principles of natural justice. On Saturday, SCBA president Rakesh Khanna had stood before the bench and dismissed the allegations against the top judge.
Several letters have been written to the CJI, expressing concern over the alleged victimisation of the lady staffer and her husband after she allegedly rejected the CJI’s advances.
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