CJI sexual harassment issue: former SC staff says she won’t take part in panel hearing

The woman says Bobde panel refused to let her have a lawyer or a support person during the hearing

April 30, 2019 08:08 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. File

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. File

The former Supreme Court staffer who alleged sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued a statement stating that she will not further participate in the Justice S.A. Bobde in-house inquiry committee proceedings into her accusations.

Hearing defect

In a press release issued on Tuesday, she said her decision to withdraw came after the panel refused to let her have a lawyer or a support person with her during the hearing. She said she suffered from impaired hearing and was left nervous and scared. Due to her hearing defect, she could not even follow what was dictated by Justice Bobde to the court official as a record of her statements before the committee.


Recording proceedings

The former apex court employee said the committee declined her request to record the proceedings on video or audio. She was also not supplied with copies of her statements made during the panel hearings of April 26 and April 29. Finally, she said no information was given to her about the procedure followed by Justice Bobde.

“I was compelled to walk out of the committee proceedings today [April 30] because the committee seemed not to appreciate the fact that this was not an ordinary complaint but a complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI and therefore it was required to adopt a procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances that I am placed,” the woman’s statement said.

‘Informal proceeding’

She claimed that the committee, which also comprised Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, had told her that “this was neither an in-house committee proceeding nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding.”

The woman said she found it extremely intimidating to face three Supreme Court judges alone. Besides, her loss of hearing in one ear, which she said was “due to stress,” made it worse for her.

She claimed to have been “orally instructed” to not disclose the panel proceedings to the media or share the details with her lawyer Vrinda Grover.

“I was repeatedly asked by the committee as to why I had made this complaint of sexual harassment so late,” she said.

She said the committee had not in its first hearing accepted her application to summon the call data records and WhatsApp call and chat records of two mobile numbers. The application was taken up on April 30.

She said she had written a detailed letter to the panel judges to treat the proceedings as a formal inquiry under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act.

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