A three-member panel set up by the Rajya Sabha to look into allegations of sexual harassment against a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge has cleared him of the charges, Bar & Bench reported on Friday.
The panel of Justice R Banumathi, former Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Manjula Chellur and Senior Advocate KK Venugopal was looking into allegations made against Justice SK Gangele by an additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior in August 2014. The judge said she resigned from her post to protect her “dignity, womanhood and self-esteem” and save herself from Justice Gangele’s harassment.
The sessions judge had accused Gangele of sending a message through the district court registrar, asking her to dance at an event at his house. When she did not go to his house, he told her that “he missed the opportunity of viewing a sexy and beautiful figure dancing on the floor”, she alleged.
Justice Gangele had denied all the allegations, and had reportedly said he was willing to face any investigation and “any penalty, even the death penalty”.
On Friday, the panel submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha. The report said the sexual harassment charges against Justice Gangele “have not been proven”.
The sessions judge had also claimed that she was “victimised” by Justice Gangele and transferred from Gwalior to Sidhi.
The first committee to inquire into the woman’s allegations was formed in 2014 by the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, but the complainant challenged its constitution in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said the chief justice had exceeded the authority vested in him. It then constituted a three-member panel that concluded that the material on record was enough to establish the sexual harassment charge.
In March 2016, Hamid Ansari, who was then the vice president, set up another panel to investigate the accusations after 58 members of the Rajya Sabha sought the judge’s impeachment.