Full text: Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar and others seek independent inquiry in CJI harassment case
The group said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s decision to constitute a special bench, headed by himself, went against ‘just and settled principles of law’.
A group of activists and writers issued a joint statement on Monday seeking an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and victimisation against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The statement called upon all the judges of the Supreme Court to ensure that an “independent and credible inquiry committee comprising senior retired judges and eminent members of civil society, headed by a woman”, is set up to inquire the the complaint made by a former employee of the Supreme Court. “The charges are prima facie serious enough to warrant an independent inquiry by a high level independent committee,” the statement said.
The statement was endorsed by 33 eminent writers and activists, including Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Kamla Bhasin, Bezwada Wilson, Anjali Bhardwaj, Yogendra Yadav, and Harsh Mander and Amnesty India Executive Director Aakar Patel.
“This is a moment of grave crisis for the judiciary,” the group said. “If the court is unable to credibly deal with this challenge, public confidence in the judiciary will be severely eroded.”
The activists and writers said Gogoi’s decision to constitute a special bench headed by himself to hear this matter went “against all just and settled principles of law”. The group said it was imperative that the complainant be granted protection.
The statement said Gogoi should refrain from exercising any administrative powers during the course of the inquiry since many of the witnesses named by the woman are officials of the court registry. “...It would not be reasonable to expect officials under his direct administrative control to depose fearlessly.”
Read the full statement here:
Statement seeking independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and victimisation against the Chief Justice of India
We are extremely concerned to note the complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation made by a woman employee of the Supreme Court against the Chief Justice of India. The charges are prima facie serious enough to warrant an independent inquiry by a high level independent committee.
The complaint also alleges arbitrary actions taken against the complainant, resulting in unprecedented victimisation that she and her family have been put through and continue to suffer after she rejected the alleged sexual advances. These include, the unjust termination of the services of the complainant, the suspension from service of her husband and two brothers-in-law, and her arrest on an apparently motivated FIR.
The act of the Chief Justice of India to constitute a special bench headed by himself to hear this issue on the judicial side, rather than constituting a credible and independent inquiry committee, goes against all just and settled principles of law. In the hearing, one-sided allegations were made by the Chief Justice and senior most law officers of the government. This is unbecoming of a judicial proceeding, especially one where the complainant in a sexual harassment case is absent and is permitted to be openly vilified in court. These actions augur a dark day in the history of the Supreme Court and have, undoubtedly, cast a shadow on the credibility of the Chief Justice and the judiciary.
We, therefore, call upon all the judges of the Supreme Court to ensure that an independent and credible inquiry committee comprising senior retired judges and eminent members of civil society, headed by a woman, is immediately set up to inquire into this complaint.
It is imperative that the complainant be granted protection, so that her safety and security is ensured. In the meantime, since many of the witnesses named by the complainant are officials of the Supreme Court registry, it is incumbent on the Chief Justice to refrain from exercising any administrative powers during the course of the inquiry, since it would not be reasonable to expect officials under his direct administrative control to depose fearlessly.
This is a moment of grave crisis for the judiciary. If the Court is unable to credibly deal with this challenge, public confidence in the judiciary will be severely eroded.
- Medha Patkar
- Arundhati Roy
- Aruna Roy
- Kamla Bhasin
- Bezwada Wilson
- Yogendra Yadav
- Kalpana Kannabiran
- Harsh Mander
- Syeda Hameed
- P Sainath
- Kavita Kuruganti
- Dipa Sinha
- Annie Raja
- Anjali Bhardwaj
- Nikhil Dey
- Prabhat Patnaik
- Aakar Patel
- Shabnam Hashmi
- Kamal Jaswal
- Amitabh Behar
- Paul Divakar
- Maj Gen SG Vombatkere
- Kavita Srivastava
- Arundhati Dhuru
- Vipul Mudgal
- Amrita Johri
- Meera Sanghamitra
- Abha Bhaiya
- Himshi Singh
- Basant Hetamsaria
- Suhas Kolhekar
- Annie Namala
A 35-year-old woman who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India wrote to 22 judges of the court on Friday, April 19, alleging that Gogoi had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11 in 2018. In the affidavit, the woman said that after she rebuffed the chief justice, she was moved out of his residence office, where she had been posted in August 2018. Two months later, on December 21, she was dismissed from service. One of the three grounds for dismissal, as detailed in the inquiry report, was that she had taken casual leave for one day without approval. She has alleged that her family is being persecuted after the incident.
Also read: CJI harassment case: Two advocates write open letter to Bar Council, condemn its support for Gogoi
Chief Justice of India sexually harassed me, says former SC staffer in affidavit to 22 judges