NEW DELHI: A sworn affidavit by a sacked junior employee of the Supreme Court sent to all serving apex court judges alleging sexual harassment by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi when she was posted at his home, created a flutter here on Saturday.
Despite it being an off day, a three-judge bench comprising the CJI and justices Arun Mishra and Sanjeev Khanna heard the matter after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it was of great public importance. During the proceedings that went on for over 30 minutes, Justice Gogoi refuted all the charges and expressed anguish at the attack.
Sensing a bigger plot to attack the office of the CJI, Justice Gogoi said, “There is nothing more valuable than reputation of a judge. And when that is attacked, it becomes shocking... independence of the judiciary is under very, very serious threat. If the judges have to work under these conditions, good people will never come to this office.”
He pointed out that his bench is scheduled to hear some important cases next week, which could be one reason why he was being singled out for the attack. Those cases include a criminal contempt matter against Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the row between the Bengal government and the CBI, a plea on stopping the release of the Modi biopic and a petition seeking deferment of polls in Tamil Nadu on charges of voter inducement.
Emphasising he will not be part of the probe panel, Justice Gogoi said: “The issue (of sexual harassment charges) will be considered by my brothers. Other senior judges will look at it, not me. But I had to convene this bench as my responsibility. I have taken this unusual step to say that the judiciary is under threat,” Justice Gogoi told Attorney General K K Venugopal and Tushar Mehta, adding he would continue to perform his duties without fear or favour till the end of his tenure.
‘Reputation is the only thing a judge has and even that is under attack’
“No judge is going to decide cases if this is the kind of attack he or she gets. Reputation is the only thing we have got and even that is under attack. This is the reward a CJI gets after 20 years of selfless service. I have a bank balance of `6.8 lakh. Even my peon has more assets than me. I am saying all this because I am extremely hurt.
And this, I thought, should be told from the highest seat of judiciary,” the CJI underlined.
Explaining the antecedents of the complainant and how two FIRs were lodged against her and that the court administration had forwarded a complaint to the Delhi Police about her verification, he said, “I don’t think this can be a plot of a junior court assistant. There is a bigger plot. They want to deactivate the office of the CJI.”
Justice Arun Mishra questioned how the judges could function when there is no faith in the system.
Concluded the hearing, the bench left the issue of publication to the wisdom of media, which should exercise restraint and wisdom while reporting unverified charges against the CJI. It did not pass any order.
Justice Gogoi was part of a unprecedented revolt in the higher judiciary in January last year when he addressed a press conference along with three other seniormost judges of the Supreme Court against the then CJI Dipak Misra. The former employee has stated two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018.
What are the allegations?
The ex-employee has stated two incidents of alleged moles-tation by Gogoi in her affidavit. Both allegedly took place in October 2018. She alleged she was sacked after she rebuffed his advances