Vahanvati to prepare terms for Presidential Reference

The Law Ministry has referred to Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati the papers it had received from the Home Ministry relating to the letter West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention for the removal of Justice A.K. Ganguly from the post of chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

The President had forwarded the letter to the Home Ministry for necessary action. The Ministry, in turn, sent it to the Law Ministry, which referred the matter to Mr. Vahanvati.

The Attorney-General told The Hindu on Thursday that he would prepare the Terms of Reference and send it to the government for Cabinet approval. Once the Cabinet approved the points for Presidential Reference, it would be sent to the Supreme Court for its advisory opinion, he said.

The Terms of Reference, among other things, will seek whether the prima facie indictment by the three-judge Supreme Court probe panel that Justice Ganguly made ‘unwelcome sexual advances’ with the law intern would amount to misconduct. If the answer is yes, can it be a ground warranting his removal under Section 23 (1A) of the Protection of Human Rights Act?

Enquiry committee

On receipt of the Presidential Reference, the Supreme Court will hear the matter in an open court and issue notice to Justice Ganguly. On receiving his reply, it will appoint an enquiry committee, which would be different from the earlier one (which was only a fact-finding panel). The court will decide the matter on the basis of the enquiry committee’s report, which will also be subject to judicial scrutiny. The court will then answer the Reference and send it to the President for appropriate action.

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