A former dean of the Delhi University Faculty of Law has lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police, seeking registration of a case on the basis of a former law intern’s allegation that she was sexually harassed by a Supreme Court judge last December.
The victim, alleged in a blog that a few other interns were also subjected to the same treatment by some other judges.
Although no case was registered in the matter till late on Thursday evening, legal experts are of the view that the police are left with no other option in view of the recent Supreme Court directive, making it compulsory for the enforcement agency to register the First Information Report on receipt of a complaint if the information discloses cognisable offence. According to the apex court’s order issued on Monday, no preliminary inquiry is required in such a situation.
“In the light of the Supreme Court directive, it becomes imperative for the police to register a case on the basis of my complaint alleging a cognisable offence. If an FIR is not registered, it would amount to contempt of court,” said Prof. S.N. Singh, the former Faculty of Law dean who filed the complaint.
In his complaint, he said: “Please treat this communication to lodge an FIR for sexual assault of [name of the victim withheld] and others which is a cognisable offence under Section 354, 354-A and 354-B and the other relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”
The complaint stated that as per the statement of the victim, who at present works at a non-governmental organisation, she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a judge, a man old enough to be her grandfather, during her law internship in Delhi.
“According to her statement, three other girls were sexually harassed by the same person and four other girls faced harassment from other persons … It is a serious matter concerning legal fraternity, especially women, and it is my constitutional obligation to inform the police to register FIR and investigate the offence as per the provisions of IPC and Cr. PC, and prosecute the guilty persons to restore the public confidence in the judicial/police system,” said Prof. Singh.
The complaint pointed out that according to the Indian Penal Code, assault or criminal force on woman with an intention to outrage her modesty is a cognisable offence for which “you are duty bound to register the FIR as per the latest judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Honourable Supreme Court delivered on November 11, 2013.” It added that in case the allegations are found to be incorrect, strict action should be taken against the woman for damaging the reputation of the judicial system.
“If the allegations are correct, the police must also identify the other girls who — according to her — were also sexually assaulted by the same judge and the others. It warrants thorough investigations,” Prof. Singh told The Hindu.
Legal expert Virag Gupta said although a three-judge committee was set up to probe the allegation, the November 11 Supreme Court directive mandates registration of FIR nevertheless, against the judge against whom the allegation has been levelled. “The initiative by Prof. Singh is bound to trigger a legal discourse that will ultimately benefit the judicial system in our country,” he said, adding that considering that false allegations could also be levelled, effective safeguards and punitive provisions be incorporated against misuse of criminal jurisprudence.