The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the chiefs of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police at 12.30 pm after perusing documents submitted by a lawyer who has alleged that he was offered money to help frame sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, reported NDTV.
As the three-judge bench that was hearing the matter was going through advocate Utsav Bains’ affidavit, Attorney General KK Venugopal pointed out that the lawyer had omitted from his affidavit a reference to a “lobby of disgruntled judges”, who he blamed for orchestrating the allegations against Gogoi. Venugopal said Bains had mentioned it in a Facebook post, Live Law reported.
“This is a very serious allegation by the A-G,” Bains responded. “I am absolutely disappointed. Bar is divided. I am thinking of leaving the profession. I have never seen such cheap allegations.”
Among other things, Bains has submitted CCTV footage that, he claimed, will “reveal many things”.
The Supreme Court asked Bains to corroborate his claim that three former employees of the top court came together to frame the chief justice with the help of some powerful lobbyists. The court asked Bains to file an affidavit by 10.30 am on Thursday.
“He has said that there are fixers,” said Justice Arun Mishra, according to Bar and Bench. “We need to find out who are these fixers. We will inquire and inquire and inquire and take it to logical conclusion.” The Supreme Court said the judicial institution will not survive if fixers work and try to manipulate it, reported PTI.
After Solicitor General Tushar Mehta called for a court-monitored inquiry by a Special Investigation Team into the allegations in the affidavit, Bains objected saying “the CBI has been used as a political tool” in the past. There should be judicial inquiry instead, he added.
“No chief justice had the courage to take action against certain elements,” said Justice Arun Mishra. “CJI Gogoi wanted to clean up the system. CJI was taking action without fear of anything.”
When Tushar Mehta said Bains should apologise for his response to Venugopal, Mishra apologised on his behalf.
- Chief Justice of India sexually harassed me, says former SC staffer in affidavit to 22 judges
- SC asks lawyer who alleged a conspiracy to frame CJI Ranjan Gogoi to appear on Wednesday
Meanwhile, an inquiry panel headed by Justice SA Bobde has asked the woman to appear before it on April 26, reported Live Law. The inquiry committee includes Justices NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee. Bobde told PTI on Tuesday that the panel would carry out an in-house inquiry, which does not need the parties involved to hire lawyers. “It is not a formal judicial proceeding,” he pointed out. The judge said there was no time frame to complete the proceedings and the inquiry’s findings will be confidential.
The charges and Gogoi’s reaction
The complainant, who used to work as a junior court assistant at the top court, wrote to 22 of its judges on April 19, alleging that Gogoi had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11. 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. Two months later, on December 21, she was dismissed from service. One of the three grounds for dismissal, as detailed in an 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.
Gogoi denied the allegations during a special hearing on April 20. The chief justice said he did not “deem it appropriate” to reply to the allegations and that they were part of a “bigger plot”, possibly one to “deactivate the office of the CJI”. Gogoi said the woman has a criminal background, with two cases against her.
Cancellation of bail
Meanwhile, the Patiala House Court has adjourned the woman’s cancellation of bail hearing to May 23 in another case. The court postponed the hearing as the notice to the complainant Naveen Kumar had gone unserved. During Wednesday’s hearing, the woman’s counsel asked for a phone and other material the police had seized, but the police said they still need it for the investigation.
The police had filed a first information report against the woman on March 3 for the alleged offences of cheating, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy after a resident of Jhajjar in Haryana filed a complaint at the Tilak Marg Police Station here.