‘Public propriety’ and ‘a sense of decency’ cited as reasons

The Trinamool Congress has called for the resignation of the Chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Asok Kumar Ganguly, who was recently accused of sexual harassment by a woman law intern.

The retired Supreme Court judge “should step down as chair of WBHRC,” the party said in its official Twitter handle on Wednesday.

While expressing his party’s “anxiousness and concern” over the allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Ganguly, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien posted in his blog that “the charges cannot but leave an impact on public perception of his current role as chair of the WBHRC.”

Urging Mr. Ganguly’s resignation, Mr. O’Brien went on to cite reasons of “public propriety” and “a sense of decency” for the government’s demand. “Justice Ganguly [should] step down from his position and restore the sanctity of the office he currently holds,” he said. “It would be wholly incumbent” on him to do so, he added.

Claiming that his party has followed an “approach of zero tolerance when it comes to the safety and dignity of women in the workplace and the toxic phenomenon of sexual harassment,” Mr. O’Brien said those who hold high ranks in public life should respond with sensitivity when such allegations are brought against them.

“It is for those in senior positions in public life to act as role models, not just in upholding standards of conduct with female colleagues but also in responding expeditiously and with sensitivity when they themselves face charges of this nature,” he said.

The Trinamool Congress government has been on the receiving end of certain judgments of Justice Ganguly as chairperson of the State’s human rights panel. These include the directive to the government to pay compensation (which it has not done as yet) to Ambikesh Mahapatra, professor of Jadavpur University, and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta, who were arrested in April last year for allegedly sharing defamatory e-mails directed at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The WBHRC’s ruling in the case of Shiladitya Chowdhury, a resident of Binpur in Paschim Medinipur, who was arrested in August last year for raising the question of rising prices of fertilisers, had also gone against the State government.

‘It is for those who are in senior positions in public life to act as role models’