The Home Ministry has sought the Law Ministry’s opinion on sending a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court to probe into allegations against Justice (retd) A.K. Ganguly and give its recommendations on the issue of removing him as chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
The move came after President Pranab Mukherjee referred to the Home Ministry a letter by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking Justice Ganguly’s removal from the high post following a law intern’s allegation of sexual harassment against the former judge and his refusal to quit the post.
“Papers have come to us. I can say as of now that we have sent to legal department and then after obtaining their opinion, we will go ahead,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.
The Chief Minister has sought removal of Justice Ganguly as the Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission after allegations of sexually harassing a law intern surfaced against him and sought the President’s “urgent appropriate action” against the former judge.
Justice Ganguly, who retired from the apex court more than a year ago, was accused by the intern of sexually harassing her, a charge strongly denied by him, in a hotel room in Delhi last year.
The chairman of State Human Rights Commission can only be removed on the orders of the President following the receipt of the Supreme Court’s inquiry report that would be vetted by the Union Cabinet.
According to Section 23 of the Human Rights Act, the Chairperson or any other member of the State Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of “proved misbehaviour or incapacity” after the Supreme Court inquiry.
The apex court will carry out the inquiry on a reference being made to it by the President in accordance with laid down procedure.
If the court reports that the Chairperson or such other member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed, the report would be sent to Cabinet which would advise the President accordingly.
Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising has also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking Justice Ganguly’s removal. She has also written an article bringing out excerpts from the intern’s statement before the Supreme Court panel.
Justice Ganguly has questioned how the confidential statement made by the young woman has been made public.