‘Constitution of J. Bobde panel violates the law’

Women activists write to SC judges

April 24, 2019 10:30 pm | Updated 10:30 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. File photo: AP

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. File photo: AP

A wide range of women across disciplines wrote to the judges of the Supreme Court on Wednesday saying the constitution of the in-house committee led by Justice S.A. Bobde to examine the sexual harassment allegations levelled against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was in “complete violation” of the sexual harassment of women at workplace law.

They said the formation of the committee tilted the balance against the woman who had alleged sexual harassment against the CJI.

“Justice Bobde has appointed a committee with himself as chair and Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee as members. The constitution of this committee with no external member is in complete violation of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013,” the petition said.

The petition is authored by women scholars, advocates, journalists, writers, activists and civil rights organisations across the country

Quoting media reports, the petition said the Justice Bobde committee would start hearing on April 26 and had no fixed timeframe to finish the proceedings.

It would “follow an in-house procedure and will not allow legal representation to either parties. While Mr. Ranjan Gogoi may not need legal representation..

‘Tilting the balance’

“This is tilting the balance against the complainant, again violating the spirit of the Visakha judgment and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013.”

The petition demanded that “keeping in mind the magnitude of the complaint” a special enquiry committee consisting of credible individuals should be constituted to conduct a thorough enquiry at the earliest and create an atmosphere of transparency and confidence for the complainant woman to depose.

It said the Chief Justice should “refrain from transacting official duties and responsibilities until the completion of the enquiry”.

This special enquiry committee should follow the norms of the law and complete its probe within 90 days. The complainant should be allowed legal assistance from lawyer of her choice.

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