Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Judge suspended for 'staring, inappropriate behaviour'

A sessions court judge on Thursday was suspended after a sexual harassment complaint was filed against him by a court staff member. The judge, M T Gaikwad, was presiding over the special Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court when the allegations were made.

The staffer complained of "inappropriate behaviour'' and alleged that he "stared'' at her in an offensive manner. During a preliminary inquiry, other staffers made similar allegations.

Shalini Joshi, registrar-general of the Bombay high court, on Tuesday confirmed the suspension. "The judge was suspended after substance was found in the complaint following a preliminary enquiry," she said.

The staffer filed the complaint about three weeks ago. The preliminary enquiry was conducted by S D Tulankar, who is also a special judge conducting trials under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA).

Joshi, the senior-most administrative officer at the HC, said that a departmental enquiry would now be conducted against Gaikwad. "The enquiry will be conducted either by a senior judge of the sessions court or high court, as decided by the Chief Justice of the Bombay high court," she said.

During such an enquiry a chargesheet will be filed against Gaikwad and witnesses will be examined. "He can represent himself during the enquiry or engage a lawyer. While there is no specific time-frame to carry out the enquiry, the process in such matters is expedited," Joshi said. Under such a departmental enquiry, if the judge is found guilty, penalties under the state civil services rules are imposed. "The penalties could entail removal or dismissal," Joshi said.

Gaikwad, a special judge, had been presiding over criminal cases under the NDPS Act for over five months and prior to had been presiding as a judge in civil cases. He was a judge in Parbhani earlier. Advocates who appeared before him said he appeared to be in his mid-40s. He had last month convicted and sentenced to 10 years a Wadala resident for possession of 2kg of charas, a commercial quantity.

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