While no one can sit in judgment over cases involving sexual harassment by judges and whatever may have transpired within a room, it is anybody’s guess whether a woman would make a false allegation involving her modesty and against the higher judiciary (“The judges’ dilemma”, Jan. 16). I would like to narrate an incident. I once got a call from a higher official in the organisation where I worked. There was a lady employee present in his cabin, much junior to him and reporting to him indirectly. He discussed some details which did not concern me. Once she left, I asked him about the reason for calling me. In a very matter-of-fact manner, he replied that he had called me as a witness to guard himself against frivolous charges that could be raised in the future. He added that he had been following this procedure for long. This came from someone who was on the verge of retirement. It is imperative that those in power and in sensitive posts take sufficient safeguards as a preventive measure against false charges being levelled.
The din over the allegations made by an intern against former Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Ganguly had barely died down when a fresh scandal involving another retired judge, Justice Swatanter Kumar, surfaced. The apex court, which had decreed that it was washing its hands of such matters after setting up a panel to probe Justice Ganguly’s alleged misconduct, has now had to take cognizance of this alleged offence as the intern has sought a permanent mechanism to probe such cases. Such a mechanism would be desirable as the accused, who suddenly find themselves caught in the eye of a storm, are made to face the brunt of the media onslaught. Justice (retd.) Swatanter Kumar’s plea for an injunction to restrain the media seems appropriate.
Had there been an institutional mechanism to deal with unwelcome behaviour by judges toward interns, any grievances on the part of interns concerning powerful judges would have been redressed in a better manner. The resolution of a full court that no more representations against judges would be entertained goes against the rule of law.
Thekkurichy, Tamil Nadu
The facts need to be ascertained given the potential damage that could be caused to persons who have occupied high office. The likelihood of false allegations cannot be entirely ruled out. So there should be a proper mechanism to ensure a level playing field to both parties. When a complaint is abnormally delayed, the benefit of the doubt can be given to the alleged perpetrator till it is proved otherwise. People occupying/who have occupied high office with a credible track record certainly deserve such immunity.
Dr. D.V.G. Sankararao,
Our Supreme Court, in trying to seek a mechanism to probe charges against its judge, should consider the position of both parties. It needs to come up with strict punishment for both sexual harassment and attempts to tarnish the judiciary.