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CJI sexual harassment issue: ex-SC staffer objects to Justice Ramana's inclusion in panel

“Justice Ramana is a close friend of the CJI and is like a family member to him”

The former Supreme Court employee, who has levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, has expressed reservations about the inclusion of Justice N.V. Ramana in the in-house committee led by Justice S.A. Bobde.

In a four-page response addressed to the court on a notice issued to her to appear before the committee on Friday, the woman claimed that as she was once posted in the CJI’s (Chief Justice of India) residence office, she knew that “Justice Ramana is a close friend of the CJI and is like a family member to him.”

“Honourable Justice Ramana is a frequent visitor to the residence of the CJI. Because of this I fear that my affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing,” she said in her April 24 reply.

The woman said she got to know from the news on April 20 that Justice Ramana, while speaking in Hyderabad at the centenary celebrations of the High Court building, said: “We have seen such attempts in the past and we will see more in future. Some friends in their private conversations are pointing out that criticism used to be against politicians only. But today, judges are also under attack. Do not be wary of such criticism as we have to uphold the dignity of the judiciary.”

She wrote, “I am aware that I hold no position or status and have only truth on my side” and expressed the hope that there would be a fair, impartial and independent hearing. “I have suffered a lot and I am hopeful that my suffering and torture of my family will come to an end soon,” she said.

Lawyer of her own choice

She sought the presence of a lawyer of her own choice while appearing before the committee, saying it was her “basic human right”. She said she was hopeful of a fair enquiry.

 

Extending her gratitude to the Supreme Court judges for constituting the committee, she said as an ordinary woman she was “full of fear and anxiety as I am in the unfortunate position of having to speak against the Chief Justice of India.”

She said she was concerned that instead of forming a special inquiry committee of senior retired judges, the judges had formed the in-house committee.

She asked the Supreme Court judges to reflect on the law laid down under the Visakha guidelines by the apex court and compliance with The Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment in Workplace law enacted in 2013. She said the committee should be headed by a woman and have an external woman member.

The complainant conveyed her fear and sense of helplessness after reading news reports about the remarks made by Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Gogoi, about her character.

 

She referred to news reports of Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal comparing the situation with attacks made on him for defending the government and Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta’s description of the allegations as “rubbish” in court.

“My character was damaged as without any reason and without hearing me, it was said that I have criminal cases against me,” she wrote to the Justice Bobde committee set up to examine her allegations against the CJI.

She recounted her helplessness after reading media report about Chief Justice Gogoi’s remarks in court on April 20 of a “bigger plot” to “deactivate the office of the CJI”.

She wrote on how Justice Arun Mishra, who was on the Bench, called the allegations “wild and baseless”. Justice Sanjiv Khanna felt the judiciary was feeling “restrained, constrained” by the allegations.

“After reading those news reports, I was frightened and felt helpless that without anyone hearing me, my complaint had been declared to be false by the Honourable judges and senior law officers,” she wrote.

“Next day, the blog by a senior cabinet minister also condemned me... I am very scared and feeling isolated and depressed... I will only be ensured justice if I am provided a fair, independent, impartial and just hearing,” she told the panel.

She is scheduled to appear before the committee for its first hearing on April 26.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 11:38:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/complainant-against-cji-objects-to-inclusion-of-justice-ramana-in-judges-panel/article26937202.ece

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