Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CJI forms panel to probe intern's sexual harassment charge against former SC judge

Chief Justice of India Justice P Sathasivam on Tuesday constituted a three-judge committee to inquire into a law graduate's sexual harassment charge against a recently retired Supreme Courtjudge.

The three-judge committee of Justice RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana P Desai will start inquiry into the alleged incident from this evening. CJI P Sathasivam revealed this in open court after attorney general GE Vahanvati moved a petition based on a TOI story reporting the charges by the law graduate.

"The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare the report," CJI said.

"Sexual harassment incidents can never be tolerated and I have assured the AG that the new committee of judges will go to the bottom of charges and submit a report as soon as possible,and we cannot take it lightly," CJI said.

"Action will be taken on the basis of the report submitted by the inquiry committee," he added.

"As the head of the institution, I am also concerned about the allegation and anxious whether the statement is true or not," the CJI remarked.

A young lawyer has alleged that she was sexually harassed last December by a Supreme Court judge she was interning with and who "retired recently".

The girl, who graduated from Kolkata-based National University of Juridical Sciences this year, said the judge, who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at a time when Delhi had erupted against the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya. She made the sensational charge first in blog she wrote on November 6 for 'Journal of Indian Law and Society', and repeated it on Monday in an interview to the website 'Legally India'.

The NUJS graduate said she had "cowardly" decided not to wage legal battle against her allegedtormentor but decided to speak out "as I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation".

Currently a fellow with 'Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment', the young woman said she kept mum because of the high position the judge enjoyed and that she was too stunned and surprised at the time to even react with anger.

In her interview to 'Legally India', she said, "I have heard of three other cases (of sexual harassment) by the same judge and I know of at least four other girls who've faced harassment from other judges -- not perhaps as (bad as mine): most of them were in the chambers of the judge and other people around, so it never gets too bad. A girl I know faced continuous sexual harassment throughout and sexual advances, and actually faced troubles through her work because of it."

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