Demonstrations were organised in major cities across the country on Thursday against the Supreme Court in-house committee’s decision to clear Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment charges. In Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru, at least 40 people were detained for an hour in the evening soon after the protests began.
The “Protests Against Supreme Injustice” were also organised in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. According to the MeTooIndia Twitter handle, a march to the Supreme Court will be held in Delhi on Friday.
Advocate Vinay Sreenivasa, who was among those detained in Bengaluru, told Scroll.in that a group first protested outside the Karnataka High Court and then walked to the Mysore Bank Circle, which is 20 minutes away. “There were about 80 to 100 people of which 30 of us were detained within about five to seven minutes after reaching Mysore Bank Circle,” he said. “There were already about three police vans there. They took us to Halasuru Gate Station and said it was preventive custody. They let us leave after about an hour.”
Writer Nisha Susan said “dozens of people” were detained in Bengaluru five minutes after the protest began. “Informally, even the police seemed to agree that what we are doing was not against the law,” said women’s rights activist Madhu Bhushan, who was also detained. “But it is the chief justice of India, so everyone is being careful.”
Activist and journalist Cynthia Stephens said the police were “waiting in full strength” at the location of the protest, according to The NewsMinute. “I was one of the first to arrive and had a placard with me,” she said. “While the rest were walking up to the venue, the cops said we could not display placards. They told a policewoman to grab my placard and bundled me into the police van.”
Stephens said the police detained them saying they did not have permission to stage a protest. She, however, claimed that the organisers had submitted a letter of intimation to the concerned police station before the protests.
On Wednesday, the Delhi Police had detained several protestors in Delhi when they were demonstrating against the in-house committee’s decision. The protestors were released three hours later. Several protestors had also been detained for a few hours the day before at the Mandir Marg Police Station.
Supreme Court panel’s inquiry
The woman who has accused Gogoi of sexually harassing her sent her complaint to 22 judges on April 19, and called for an inquiry into the actions of the chief justice. However, on April 30, she withdrew from the in-house inquiry as she had not been allowed to have a lawyer present at depositions and had not been informed of 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 following day, the complainant asked the inquiry panel to give her a copy of the report. However, according to the court’s secretary general, the report is not liable to be made public.