Woman trial court judge can't be reinstated: Madhya Pradesh HC tells SC

The high court judge was given a clean chit in December 2017 by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel which had probed the allegations.

Published: 11th January 2019 07:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th January 2019 07:39 PM   |  A+A-

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For representational purposes

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has told the Supreme Court that a woman judicial officer, who is seeking reinstatement after having resigned following inquiry into her allegations of sexual harassment against a sitting high court judge, cannot be reinstated.

The high court judge was given a clean chit in December 2017 by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel which had probed the allegations.

The woman has moved the apex court seeking that the administrative order of January 11, 2017 passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, dismissing her application for reinstatement into the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Services, should be set aside.

In its reply filed in the top court, the high court has said that her petition was not maintainable as the allegations levelled there has already been rejected by two separate inquiry committees.

The registrar general of the high court also said that high court had not compelled her to tender resignation and now, she cannot be allowed to withdraw it.

During the hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the petitioner, said that response of the high court was on record now.

However, the counsel appearing for state of Madhya Pradesh said they needed a week time to file their response.

"You should have filed your reply by now," the bench told the state's counsel.

Later, the court asked the state to file their response and posted the matter for final disposal after two weeks.

In her plea, the petitioner has said that her fundamental rights granted under the Constitution for employment, to work and to carry on her profession needs to be secured.

She has said that high court had ignored the categorical finding in the report of the Judges Inquiry Committee dated December 15, 2017 terming the petitioner's resignation dated July 15, 2014 from her post of Additional District Judge as "unbearable circumstances having no other option".

The plea has said that Madhya Pradesh High Court had dismissed her application "without assigning any valid reasons for the rejection and in utter disregard of the findings of fact arrived by the Judges Inquiry Committee in its report".

It added that motion for removal under Article 217 read with Article 124 of the Constitution was instituted against the respondent judge in the Rajya Sabha on allegations of sexual harassment and consequent victimisation levelled by the Petitioner.

"After the inquiry proceedings conducted against the Respondent Judge on three charges relating to sexual harassment, consequent victimisation and transfer of the Petitioner, the Judges Inquiry Committee held that the charges were not proved and hence cleared him of all charges," the petition has said.

It, however, said the Judges Inquiry Committee took note of the arbitrary and sudden transfer of the petitioner from Gwalior to Sidhi which was done "in complete violation of the transfer policy, not on administrative exigencies and concluded that the transfer of the petitioner was in violation of the transfer Policy - punitive, irregular, unjustified, arbitrary and hurried".

The woman in her plea has added that the judges inquiry committee had opined that "the petitioner be reinstated in service since her resignation was tendered under coercion".

A motion of impeachment was admitted against the high court judge after 58 members of the Rajya Sabha supported the woman's case.

The report of the panel comprising Supreme Court judge R Bhanumathi, Justice Manjula Chellur (then Bombay High Court judge) and jurist K K Venugopal (now Attorney General for India) had given a clean chit to the high court judge was tabled before the Rajya Sabha on December 15, 2017.

The panel was set up in April 2015 by then Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari after admitting a motion supported by 58 members to impeach the judge.

The woman, in her plea, has claimed that she had practised as an advocate in various courts including the Supreme Court, the High Court, Tribunals for 15 years before she qualified in the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Services on March 23, 2011, and thereafter was selected as the 2nd Additional Judge to 1st Additional District and Sessions Judge, Gwalior on August 1, 2011.

She said, after completing her training under the 1st Additional District & Sessions Judge, Gwalior, she was appointed as the VIIIth Additional District and Sessions Judge Gwalior on October 1, 2012.

On July 7, 2014, she was transferred to Sidhi from Gwalior which she termed as "illegal", "unjust" and "punitive transfer" as their was no vacancy in Sidhi nor any administrative exigencies.

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