Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday appeared before an in-house inquiry committee probing the allegations of sexual harassment against him, PTI reported. “A letter of request was issued to the Chief Justice of India asking him to meet the committee and he responded to it and he met the committee on this issue,” an unidentified official told the news agency.
The 35-year-old complainant has withdrawn from the inquiry proceedings. The three-judge committee has decided to carry on the inquiry in her absence.
Unidentified officials told The Indian Express that findings of any in-house inquiry are not made public. The committee in all likelihood will submit its report to the secretary general of the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope.
The committee of Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee is probing the allegations levelled by a former employee of the Supreme Court. The secretary general of the Supreme Court also appeared with records and reports related to the complainant’s employment and her harassment allegations, reported The Indian Express.
On Tuesday, the complainant had said she was not allowed to bring a lawyer or person of support, and was also denied her request that the proceedings be recorded on video. “I was compelled to walk out of the committee proceedings today because the committee seemed not to appreciate the fact that this was not an ordinary complaint but was a complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI and therefore it was require to adopt procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances that I am placed,” she said.
The case and Gogoi’s reaction
The complainant in the sexual harassment case used to work as a junior court assistant at the top court. On April 19, she wrote to 22 Supreme Court judges, 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.