The Supreme Court on Saturday morning constituted a special bench on the “independence of the judiciary”, to sit immediately to address a matter of “great public importance”. A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna sat at 10.30 am in the chief justice’s court.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, Tushar Mehta, the president of the Bar Association and others were present in court.
As the hearing began, Gogoi said he had received communications from four media houses including Scroll.in about a letter from a former court employee alleging that Gogoi had harassed her, reported LiveLaw. He said he did not “deem it appropriate” to reply to the allegations and that the employee had only been at the court for one-and-a-half months.
The lady has a criminal background, LiveLaw quoted Gogoi as saying. He added that there were two cases against her, and claimed that her allegations were part of a “bigger plot”, possibly one to “deactivate the office of the CJI”.
Gogoi claimed that the judiciary was under serious threat but that the matter would be considered by senior judges of the court. The judges said an appropriate bench would hear the charges against Gogoi.
The chief justice claimed that no judge would decide cases if “this is the kind of attack we get”. “Reputation is the only thing we have,” LiveLaw reported him as saying. He said that the woman’s harassment charges had come up the week before he had to hear “important cases” and that it was an attempt to dissuade him from hearing those matters.
Gogoi brought up his savings and said he had worked for 20 years and that this, the allegations, was his “reward” after so many years of service.
The notice said that the order came up after the matter was mentioned by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. After Gogoi’s remarks, Mehta said that the allegations sounded like a “blackmail technique”, according to LiveLaw.
The judges ended the session, saying that they were not passing any order, but that they were “leaving it to the media” to ensure that through their coverage the independence of the judiciary was protected.
Later, Gogoi’s name did not feature in the order sheet, although he was clearly part of the bench on Saturday morning.
Earlier on Saturday, Scroll.in reported on a former Supreme Court staffer who sent a letter and affidavit to 22 judges alleging that Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had sexually harassed her and then victimised her family after the incident.
The woman, who worked as a junior court assistant, wrote to 22 judges of the court alleging that the chief justice had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11, 2018. Gogoi has denied the charges.
The woman said in her affidavit that after she rebuffed Gogoi’s advances, she was moved out of his residence office and dismissed from service on December 21. She requested the judges to form a special enquiry committee of senior retired judges of the Supreme Court to inquire into her charges.
She said the problem has affected members of her family and some of their jobs as well. Her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables in Delhi Police, were suspended on December 28, 2018, for a case involving a colony dispute dating back to 2012 that had been mutually resolved. She alleged that she, her husband, and other family members were detained by police and physically abused in custody.
Case against complainant
In March, a case of cheating was filed against the woman by a former colleague. The allegation was that she had taken Rs 50,000 from the complainant in 2017, promising to secure a job for him in the Supreme Court, but had failed to keep her word.
Her bail cancellation hearing in the matter was held around noon on Saturday in the Patiala House Court. The matter was posted to Wednesday, April 24, as the woman’s lawyer argued that they have not been served with all documents.
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