NEW DELHI: In a first of its kind order, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court to divest one of his colleagues, accused of sexually harassing a former woman Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ), from undertaking all administrative and supervisory functions.
A Bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, also held that the Chief Justice of the MP High Court travelled beyond his jurisdiction, by constituting a two-judge committee to look into the allegations of the woman subordinate judge.
“The Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, in the present case, travelled beyond the jurisdiction.
The two-judge committee should have been formed at the second stage of investigation,” the Bench noted in its 72-page ruling, adding that the second stage of in-house inquiry proceedings had to be commenced by the Chief Justice of India.
It said, “To ensure the fair and just inquiry, it is imperative to divest respondent number three (the judge concerned) of supervisory and administrative functions.”
The court also said that the CJI may re-initiate the in-house proceedings or may ask the Chief Justice of other high court to do the same. The court also ordered its registry to make public the in-house procedure for enquiry into sexual harassment and other complaints against High Court judges and Chief Justices, and place the process on the website.
Earlier, the apex court had restrained the media from covering the proceedings in the case. It, however, had said that the judgement could be reported.
Representing the woman judge before the court, former Additional Solicitor General and women’s rights activist Indira Jaising had sought an intervention from the CJI for a probe into the issue. She had contended that the Chief Justice of the high court did not have the authority to constitute the committee.
The Supreme Court had, on August 29, stayed an August 8 order of the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, setting up a judicial panel to probe the allegations levelled by the former woman judge.