But the retired SC judge questions how a government official could have made the "confidential document" public
Justice (retired) Asok Kumar Ganguly came under renewed pressure to quit as head of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission after a national daily published details of an affidavit to the Supreme Court by a law intern accusing him of sexual harassment.
The retired Supreme Court judge, who had earlier firmly ruled out resigning, gave no indication of a change of mind, and questioned instead how a government official could have made the “confidential document” public.
Excerpts of the affidavit, giving details of what had passed between the judge and the intern at a hotel in New Delhi, appeared in an article written by additional solicitor-general Indira Jaisingh in the Indian Express.
“The documents are supposed to be confidential, but no confidentiality is being maintained,” Mr. Ganguly said. “What should I say?... She [Ms. Jaisingh] is a government officer,” he said.
The intern has alleged in her affidavit that Justice Ganguly wanted her to share a room with him, insisted that she drink alcohol, put his hand on her back, kissed her arm and told that he was attracted to her.
For her part, Ms. Jaisingh, who reiterated her demand for his resignation, maintained that there was no “confidentiality” in the affidavit any more as the Supreme Court panel set up to inquire into the allegation had given its report, and the intern supported the decision to make the details public. “Once the panel has given its report, there is no confidentiality in the documents. After the hearing, the copies of the affidavit were presented both to Justice Ganguly and to the woman,” Ms. Jaisingh told The Hindu.
The three-member panel held that allegations of sexual harassment against him prima facie disclosed an act of “unwelcome behaviour.”
The senior legal official, who wrote last week to the Prime Minister asking for the Union Cabinet to take up the matter so that the President could initiate the procedures for his removal, said making the document public had become necessary as Justice Ganguly was “repeatedly denying the allegations.”
Stating that while former Judges and a former Lok Sabha Speaker had come out in support of Justice Ganguly and the voice of the intern was not being heard, Ms. Jaisingh told journalists earlier in the day that she felt that making the affidavit public was the only way to answer the questions that were being raised.
“It is now for the NUJS [National University of Juridical Sciences where the intern was a student] to respond, the Central government to respond and the criminal justice system of the country to respond,” she said, adding she had done what she could.
Pointing out that Justice Ganguly should reign as WBHRC chairperson, Ms. Jaisingh said: “He thinks that resigning would mean admitting the allegations, but in my view if he resigns it would enhance the stature of WBHRC.”