A group of lawyers is sending copies of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, to all the judges of the Supreme Court as a mark of protest against the decision of an in-house committee to clear Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment charges, Bar and Bench reported on Thursday.
Their campaign, called “May It Please Your Lordship”, aims to remind the judges to apply the same rules to themselves as they do to others. “For an institution which is meant to be the saviour of the rights of all citizens and the final interpreter of the Constitution, the judges of the Supreme Court of India have for far too long gotten away with impunity from charges of sexual harassment levelled against them,” read the statement issued by the promoters of the campaign, according to Live Law.
On April 19, the woman had sent her complaint to 22 judges and called for an inquiry into the actions of Gogoi, who she said not only harassed her but was also responsible for her subsequent victimisation. However, on April 30, she withdrew from the inquiry as she had not been allowed to have a lawyer present at depositions and was not informed about the procedure that would be followed.
On May 6, the in-house committee rejected her complaint and the court’s secretary general said the panel had found “no substance” in her allegations. The next day, the complainant had asked the court’s in-house committee to give her a copy of their report exonerating Gogoi. The court official said that the inquiry committee’s report was not liable to be made public.
The campaign’s promoters said the court’s way of handling the matter was bizarre. “The statement made by the complainant while withdrawing from the so-called inquiry proceedings set up by the court further makes it clear that far from being well versed with the nuances of sexual harassment and power imbalance, the court has perhaps forgotten the very spirit behind the enactment of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 as well as the Vishaka guidelines,” they said.
They also criticised the Delhi Police’s action against protestors. The Delhi Police on Wednesday detained several protesters while they were demonstrating against the decision of the in-house committee. “The fact that the power of the entire state machinery is being used to muzzle the protests against the manner in which a ‘clean chit’ has been given to the Chief Justice of India by the so-called in house inquiry committee of the Supreme Court has been on full display,” read the statement. Similar protests are scheduled for Thursday in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai.