New Delhi, Apr 9 (PTI) Should the Supreme Court collegium not withhold its recommendation to appoint a person as a high court judge till he is cleared of the charges of sexual harassment by a “fair” probe and not “merely by a summary enquiry,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked CJI Dipak Misra.
Escalating the war of words between the Judiciary and the Executive over appointment of judges, Prasad wrote to Justice Misra, saying that a complaint of sexual harassment against a district court judge in Karnataka, recommended for elevation to the high court, had not been handled as per the apex court’s guidelines in Vishakha case Prasad’s letter comes days after the apex court’s second senior most judge, Justice J Chelameswar, wrote to the SC judges alleging that the government has stalled P K Bhat’s elevation even after a discreet probe by the Karnataka High Court absolved him of the charges of sexual harassment, levelled against him by a junior woman judicial officer.
The three-page letter, written last week, says the records do not indicate that the complainant was “provided any chance to present her case and whether a lady judge of the (Karnataka) high court or a senior lady judicial officer conducted the enquiry” as per the Vishkha case verdict.
“Such a summary enquiry in a complaint involving allegations of sexual harassment of a subordinate judicial officer by her superior, raises very serious questions… whether we should consider a discreet enquiry, even by a high court chief justice, as a fair, sufficient and conclusive enquiry,” the law minister asked in his letter.
Prasad also wondered if “pending the conduct and conclusion of a fair, judicious enquiry conducted by a lady judge which would prove the innocence of the recommended officer (Bhat), the Supreme Court collegium should not withhold the recommendation of his appointment to the high constitutional office.” Rejecting Justice Chelameswar’s allegation that the Executive was stalling the Judiciary’s recommendations on appointments, sources in the government had earlier said the government was in no hurry to take a call on the collegium’s recommendation to elevate Bhat.
They had said till a proper probe is held, government can “sit” on the file for as long as it wants.
Justice Chelameswar had urged the CJI to consider convening a full court to take up the issue of alleged executive interference in the working of the judiciary.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.