The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to a lawyer who claimed there was conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case, reported PTI. Advocate Utsav Singh Bains has been asked to appear in court at 10.30 am on Wednesday.
Last week, a junior court assistant had sent written complaints to 22 judges alleging that she was sexually harassed by Chief Justice Gogoi in October, 2018.
In an affidavit filed before the court, Bains claimed that a fixer named Romesh Sharma, who runs a “cash for judgements” business, tried to bribe him to frame the chief justice. Bains claimed that a certain “high-profile corporate figure” tried to get a favourable judgment from Gogoi. The affidavit also alleged that Sharma had links to 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim, who the lawyer claimed had introduced Romesh Sharma to Naresh Goyal, the founder chairman of Jet Airways.
The case was heard by a new bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Deepak Gupta. It was initiated suo moto after a special bench, including Gogoi himself, conducted proceedings on April 20 in the chief justice’s court.
The allegations and how they were first addressed
The Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association said the procedure adopted by the chief justice of India to conduct proceedings on April 20 was in violation of procedure established by law. “The EC [Executive Committee] further resolves and requests the Hon’ble Full Court of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to take all such necessary steps as may be required in law in this regard,” it said in a statement. “The EC further resolves that without prejudice to any enquiry which may be initiated as above, it shall collate all the materials and facts with regard to the said allegations from social media, electronic media, print media and other available sources, which may be considered in its next meeting.”
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 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.
During the hearing on April 20, Gogoi 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, alleged Gogoi. 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”. 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.
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.