Stung by allegations of sexual misbehaviour by one of its former judges, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set up a three-judge committee to go into the charge of a woman intern that she was sexually harassed last December by the judge, who retired recently.
Observing that he was concerned as head of the institution (judiciary), Chief Justice of India (CJI) P Sathasivam said, “In the cases of sexual harassment, we cannot take it lightly.”
“We are taking steps,” said the three-judge bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh after Attorney General G E Vahavati brought up the matter, saying, “It's an extremely serious matter“.
The chief justice said the matter was also mentioned at 10.30 am in court and during the lunch recess it was discussed with other judges. “I have constituted a committee comprising three judges —— Justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai.”
“The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare a report... from this evening they are going to start their work,” the CJI said.
“First, the committee will find out the correctness of the statement,” Justice Sathasivam said, observing that there are records about the interns or advocates who are associated with judges. Further entries are made about persons coming to the Supreme Court and the committee will go into it, he said.
The allegation of sexual assault hit the Supreme Court when a young woman intern accused a sitting judge, who retired recently, of having misbehaved with her in a hotel room last December when the nation was grappling with the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in the capital.
The allegation, levelled by the woman lawyer against the unnamed judge, was raised in the apex court before the Chief Justice by advocate M L Sharma with a plea that the issue be taken note of by the court suo motu (on its own, without any formal compalint) on the basis of media reports and an inquiry be initiated.