New Delhi: A panel headed by Justice SA Bodbe, including two Supreme Court judges, will conduct an in-house inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations levelled against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi by a former woman staff. Also Read - Supreme Court To Start 'Hybrid Mode' Hearings on Experimental Basis From March 15
“I decided to have Justice NV Ramana in the panel as he is next to me in the seniority and Justice Indira Banerjee as she is a woman judge,” Justice Bobde, the senior-most judge of the SC after the CJI, told PTI on Tuesday. Also Read - There Should be Some Screening: Supreme Court Seeks OTT Regulations From Centre
The first hearing in connection with the matter will be conducted on Friday. In this regard, the apex court secretary general has been asked to be ready with all documents and materials. Also Read - Dissent Cannot be Termed Seditious, Says Supreme Court; Junks Plea Against Farooq Abdullah
Asserting that the hearing in the case will not be a formal judicial proceeding, Justice Bodbe said, “This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties.” He also clarified that the future course of action will depend on the findings of the inquiry which will be ‘confidential’.
Meanwhile, a notice to the woman, who had written letters to the judges alleging sexual harassment by the CJI, has already been issued.
On Monday, the Supreme Court Employees Welfare Association (SCEWA) came out in support of CJI Ranjan Gogoi. Further, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) held that the unprecedented hearing by a three-judge bench following sexual harassment allegations against the CJI was a “violation of the procedure established by law”.
Defending Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a blog post said that a set of “institution disruptors” have launched an attack on the CJI based on “completely unverified allegations”. In the blog post titled ‘It’s Time to Stand up With the Judiciary’, the Union Minister claimed that the complainant had distributed copies of her representation to other judges of the Supreme Court and the media in order to sensationalise her allegations.
Allegations of sexual harassment had cropped up against the CJI on April 20 prompting him to convene an urgent extraordinary hearing in which he asserted that the charges by a former apex court staffer were “unbelievable” and part of a conspiracy by some “bigger force” to “deactivate” the CJI’s office. As the allegations by the former woman staffer who had worked at Justice Gogoi’s home office in Delhi and dating back to October stunned the judiciary, the CJI had said he would not stoop too low, even to deny them.
The Chief Justice of India had denied the allegations, and called it a ‘conspiracy to destabilise judiciary’. Dismissing the allegations, Gogoi said that he was hurt with the ‘baseless charges’. He added the charges being levelled against him were intended to malign his image.