Pressure is mounting on retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Ganguly to step down as the head of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission with Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday questioning the Supreme Court’s decision of not taking further action against Justice Ganguly who has been indicted in a case of sexual harassment.
The Law Minister told NDTV that he was "disappointed" with the Supreme Court for not proceeding against Justice A.K. Ganguly in the alleged sexual harassment case and termed it a failure on the top court's part to protect a "woman's dignity."
"They have given some kind of prima facie observation that sexual overtures were made. In that case, why did they wash their hands off the matter?" Mr. Sibal was quoted saying.
The Law Minister was also quoted by PTI saying that the “issue cannot be brushed under the carpet". Mr. Sibal on Twitter said: “Supreme Court must not be seen to be washing their hands off the matter” and “Supreme Court must rise to the occasion to protect the dignity of a woman by he who was one of them. Not doing so disappoints us.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too has upped the ante for his dismissal and Trinamool Congress has written to President Pranab Mukherjee for his removal.
After Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asked for Justice Ganguly’s removal, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley too has called for action against the former Judge who has been accused of sexual harassment by a former intern.
On Friday Ms. Swaraj tweeted: “Since Supreme Court panel has indicted Justice Ganguly for his unwelcome behaviour, his continuation as Chairman WBHRC is most unwelcome.” This was followed by a tweet from Mr. Jaitley which said: "Supreme Court on the administrative side may not have the power to deal with a retired judge. It could certainly do so on the judicial side."
Taking a hard line, Mr. Jaitley said the standard that the Supreme Court follows for every holder of High office and must apply even more sternly to a sitting or former judge of the court.
In a post on Twitter, Mr. Jaitley said: “After recording the statement of the intern and the affidavits of three witnesses and of the former Judge the Committee [three member SC judges committee] has observed that the allegations prima facie disclose an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature) by the former Judge in his room in the hotel on December 24, 2012. However, considering the fact that the court on the administrative side did not have a jurisdiction to deal with a retired judge and a former intern, the full court on the administrative side opined that no further follow up action could be taken by the court.”
Commenting on the court’s decision that if representations against former Judges are received, the same shall not be entertained by the administration of the court, Mr. Jaitley said: “This reasoning of the full court fails the test of conscience. …. The administrative decision of the Supreme Court, is being closely watched by all citizens. Is the Court dealing with a former Judge, who currently holds the office as the Chairman, Human Rights Commission, West Bengal in the same way as it would have dealt with any other person who is or has been the holder of an exalted office ?”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to President Pranab Mukherjee asking him to urgently take "appropriate action" against Justice Ganguly for what she said is "grave misconduct".
The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has also demanded that Justice Ganguly must step down from the public office. “AIDWA is also of the opinion that in the interest of justice, the whole truth in this matter must come out through due legal process to be pursued by the appropriate institutions,” the Association said in a statement.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has taken suo motu cognisance of the sexual harassment allegations against Justice Ganguly and issued him a notice.
On Friday, the Commission said it has sent two notices on the issue, one to Justice Ganguly and the other to the Delhi Police Commissioner, asking why no action was taken after the girl had narrated the entire incidence of harassment.
NCW Chairperson Mamta Sharma said a letter had been sent to the police on November 12 to file an FIR to investigate the case, but there has been no reply so far.