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Over 250 women lawyers and academics appeal to SC for fair probe on CJI sexual harassment case

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

In a letter addressed to the Judges of the Supreme Court of India dated Wednesday April 24, 2019, over 250 women lawyers and academics made an appeal to the apex court for a fair probe on the allegations of sexual harassment raised by a former employee against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

On Monday, a three-member committee of Supreme Court judges, comprising Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee, was formed to look into the allegations.

The letter has been reproduced below:

To

The Judges of the Supreme Court of India, New Delhi

CJI Sexual Harassment case: Seeking a fair and impartial enquiry in accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013

We, lawyers, scholars and members of women’s groups and civil society are shocked at reading the contents of the complaint of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation suffered by a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. An affidavit was submitted by the aggrieved woman to the 22 judges of the Hon'ble Supreme Court detailing the sexual harassment faced by her from none less than the Chief Justice of India. The 29 pages-long affidavit explained how she was posted in the office of the Chief Justice, systematically pursued at her home and office through calls and messages, encouraged initially with compliments, favours and excessive attention, finally followed by sexual advances. The administrative persecution both by way of termination of employment, and registration of criminal cases against her and her family members came upon her when she rejected the sexual advances made by the Chief Justice.

While the allegations listed in the affidavit are shocking, equally worrisome was the response of the Chief Justice: apart from denying the charges, he constituted a Special Bench along with two other Judges at 10.30 am to hear a matter of “great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary”. In short, he constituted a Bench to hear his own case! Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who were part of the specially constituted Bench, noted that they will not pass an Order, but nevertheless did so. Referring to the allegations as “wild and scandalous”, they went on to say that such allegations negate the independence of the Judiciary. They also counseled the media to observe restraint. Strangely, the Order did not name the presence of the Chief Justice at whose instance the Special Bench was convened.

Further, there was nothing in the Order which indicated that the Judges passed this Order based upon any investigation by a competent authority.

We are both shocked and saddened that the Chief Justice of India as well as the Special Bench have responded as most men, in public office or in positions of authority and power do, when accused of sexual misconduct. Denial of the allegations, maligning the complainant, citing past histories, imputing ulterior motives to the complainant are familiar and regular devices deployed by accused men. Equally common is the undertaking of vindictive measures including administrative harassment and suits of defamation against complainants.

Not only have the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court of India not set an example by their behavior, but they appear to have moved a step ahead to delegitimize women’s complaints of sexual harassment – they have declared that the allegation is itself an attempt to tarnish the independence of the Judiciary. This is both indefensible and appalling. We fail to see what this has to do with the independence of the Judiciary, which we wish to uphold as conscientious citizens, but this ought not to be interpreted to mean immunity from investigation when allegations are made.

The Bar Council of India has rubbished the complaint as an attempt to malign the Judiciary and termed it politically motivated. In the absence of a duly conducted investigation or enquiry, we are puzzled about how the BCI, lawyers and judges are concluding with such haste that the complaint is false, baseless and motivated. On 24th April it has been reported that, Justice Bobde, the next senior most judge from

Supreme court has been asked by the CJI to appoint a committee which will enquire into the allegations of 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. Media reports that this committee will start hearing on Friday 26th April 2019 and that it

has no fixed time frame in which to finish the proceedings, will follow an in house procedure and will not allow legal representation to either parties. While the Mr Ranjan Gogoi may not need legal representation, this is tilting the balance against the complainant, again violating the spirit of the Vishakha judgement and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013.

In the given circumstances, keeping in mind the magnitude of the complaint we demand:

a) A Special Enquiry Committee consisting of credible individuals be constituted to conduct a thorough enquiry at the earliest and create an atmosphere of transparency and confidence for the complainant to depose.

b) The Special Enquiry Committee should follow the norms of the IC and accordingly conduct its enquiry.

c) The Chief Justice of India should refrain from transacting official duties and responsibilities until the completion of the enquiry.

d) The Complainant should be allowed legal assistance from lawyer of her choice.

e) The enquiry should be completed within 90 days as stated in the law.

It is these measures which will uphold the dignity and independence of the Judiciary and more particularly, restore the faith of all women, indeed all citizens of the country, in the Judiciary.

Signed by:

1. Rama Melkote, Prof.(Retd) Osmania University

2. Amita Dhanda, Professor, Nalsar, Hyderabad

3. S Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum

4. Flavia Agnes, Advocate

5. Labia, A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai

6. Chayanika Shah, FAOW

7. V.Geetha, Writer, Chennai

8. Vasudha Nagaraj, Advocate

9. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, HBSE, Mumbai

10. Veena Gowda, Advocate

11. N. Vasanti, Professor of Constitutional Law, Nalsar, Hyderabad

12. Mary E John, New Delhi

13. Veena Shatrugna, Former Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition

14. Uma Chakravarti, Historian

15. Sandhya Gokhale, Mumbai

16. Ammu Abraham, Mumbai

17. Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai

18. B. Girija, State Project Manager, Sakhi Telangana

19. Kabi Sherman, Mumbai

20. Meena Gopalan, Mumbai

21. Hasina Khan, Mumbai

22. Shals Mahajan, Mumbai

23. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara

24. Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

25. A. Suneetha, Anveshi Research Center for Women’s Studies

26. Susie Tharu, Prof.(Retd) EFL University

27. K Sudha, Assistant Professor, DSNLU, Member, Human Rights Forum

28. K Anuradha, Human Rights Forum

29. Janaki Nair, JNU

30. Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Study

31. Sukla Sen, Mumbai

32. Kamayani Mahabal, Mumbai

33. Lara Jessani, Advocate, Mumbai

34. Dr J Vijayalakshmi, Advocate

35. Archana Pydah, Advocate

36. K. Kiran Mayee, Advocate

37. V. Naga Lakshmi, Advocate

38. Sneha Bhogle, Advocate

39. M. Mandakini, Advocate

40. Mohammed Shakeel, Advocate

41. Sherin. B.S, EFL University, Hyderabad

42. Ranjana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Bhubaneswar

43. Kalpana Karunakaran, IIT Madras

44. B. Girija,

45. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai

46. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Kochi

47. Prema Revati, Educationist

48. Rachana Mudraboyina, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti

49. Karuna, Researcher, Chennai

50. Dr Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Hyderabad

51. Saheli, Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi

52. Vasudha Katju, Researcher, New Delhi

53. K. Satyavati, Bhumika, Hyderabad

54. Aisha Farooqui, Prof. (Retd) Osmania University

55. Swathy Margaret, Researcher

56. S. Ashalatha, Social Activist

57. Sajaya. K, Caring Citizens Collective

58. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti

59. Asma Rasheed, EFL University, Hyderabad

60. Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism

61. Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University, Hyderabad

62. Radhika Khajuria, New Delhi

63. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi

64. Yenna Deepa Sai, Advocate

65. Ketki Ranade, Mumbai

66. Asha Achuthan, Mumbai

67. Vineeta Bal, Pune.

68. Anjali Rawat, Law Researcher

69. Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, Mumbai

70. Madhu Bhushan

71. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice, Himachal Pradesh

72. Pragnya Joshi, PUCL, Udaipur

73. Dr. Albertina Almeida, Advocate, Goa.

74. Vennela Madabhushi, Lawyer, Bangalore

75. Harini Karnamadakala, Content Writer

76. Nari Samata Manch

77. Anuradha Pati, Development Professional

78. Soma KP, Independent Research Scholar

79. Lata Singh, JNU

80. Urmilla Chandran, Principal Technical Writer

81. Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women’s Support Alliance

82. Nari Samata Manch, Pune

83. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland

84. Kaneez Fatima, Activist and Librarian

85. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships

86. Masooma Ranalvi, We SpeakOut

87. Srinivas Vellikad, Senior Manager, Documentation.

88. S. Seethalakshmi, Researcher

89. Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, Mumbai

90. Sunkara Rajendra Prasad, Advocate, Vijayawada

91. Supriya Jan, CORO India

92. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM

93. Vahida Nainar, Mumbai

94. Karuna DW, Chennai

95. Sumi Krishna, Independent Scholar, Bangalore

96. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore

97. Meena Seshu, Sangram

98. Jayasree.A K., Professor, Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Kannur, Kerala

99. Shaitan Singh, Law Student, Visakhapatnam

100. Anjana Ramanathan, Advocate

101. Piyoli Swatija, Advocate

102. VS Krishna, Human Rights Forum

103. Smita Gupta, New Delhi

104. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland

105. Saheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi

106. Geeta Seshu, Journalist

107. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy

108. Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University

109. Ritu Dewan, Vice President at Indian Society of Labour Economics

110. Sarojini.N, New Delhi

111. Brinelle D'souza, TISS

112. Deeptha Achar, Professor, Baroda

113. Shilpaa Anand, BITS- Pilani, Hyderabad campus

114. Shefali Jha, University of Hyderabad

115. M. Madhavi, Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Bangalore

116. Kumar Shubham Raj, Advocate, Bihar

117. Vedula Chitralekha, Advocate

118. Bushra Quasmi, Asst Prof, DSNLU, Visakhapatnam

119. Madhumeeta Sinha, EFL University

120. B Syama Sundari, Dastakar Andhra

121. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori

122. Ambika Tandon, New Delhi

123. Anandhi.S, Researcher, Chennai

124. Dr. M. Ajay, Dermatologist

125. Sumitra, Ankuram

126. Shalini Gera, Advocate, Bilaspur High Court

127. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Telangana

128. Smita Gupta, New Delhi

129. Govind Kelkar, Senior Advisor - Women, Land & Productive Assets

130. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT

131. P V Srividya, Journalist, Krishnagiri

132. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, HBSCE, Mumbai

133. K. Katyayani, Prof (Retd), Kakatitya University, Warangal

134. Deepa V health Activist, Delhi

135. Sunita Sheel, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai; Vidhayak Trust, Pune

136. Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata

137. Veena Johari, Advocate, Mumbai

138. Mumtaz Sheikh, CORO Mahila Mandal federation Mumbai

139. Rohini Hensman, Writer & Researcher

140. Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist

141. Tashi Choedup, Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist

142. Poushali Basak, Mumbai

143. Aditi Joshi, Mumbai

144. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai

145. Kaveri Dadhich, Mumbai

146. Padma, Independent Researcher , Mumbai

147. Abhay. S

148. Cleophas. B

149. Leena. M

150. Sonakshi.K

151. Loshua. S

152. Anurita.P

153. Hitesh. F

154. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Ooty

155. R. Alphonso, Mumbai

156. Neha Singh, Mumbai

157. Shewli Kumar, Mumbai

158. Bharati Kapadia, Mumbai

159. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Mumbai

160. Bharathi. G

161. Catrinel Dunca, Ahmedabad

162. Sudhanva. V

163. Nirja Vasavada, Ahmedabad

164. Shumona Goel

165. Mani A., Kolkata

166. Kamaxi Bhate, Mumbai

167. Ariane. B

168. Mehernosh. B

169. Dhruvika. J

170. Haresh. T

171. Rajeev. C

172. Mridul Dudeja, Mumbai

173. Persis. S

174. Pallavi. G

175. Chandanathil. G

176. Lavanya.J

177. Pratishtha. P

178. Satjot. L

179. Margaret. G

180. Jogitha. J

181. Ajit. P

182. Eshvendar. R

183. Aapyayani. K

184. Kavinder. R

185. Doris. L

186. Moruni. M

187. Kavya. S

188. Jayaram. N

189. Ekta. S

190. Samir. P

191. Nandini Rao, Activist, New Delhi

192. Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, New Delhi

193. Gayatri, Faculty, TISS, Hyderabad

194. Abhiti Gupta, Legal Activist, New Delhi

195. Maneka Khanna, Advocate, Delhi

196. Surabhi Dhar, Advocate, Delhi

197. Zeba Sikora, Advocate, Mumbai

198. Rupali Samuel, Advocate, Delhi

199. Payoshi Roy, Advocate, Mumbai

200. Archit Krishna, Advocate, Chattisgarh

201. Satnam Kaur

202. Reethika Ravikumar

203. Mini Mathew, Advocate

204. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi

205. Fatima N, Tamil Nadu

206. V Rukmini Rao, Hyderabad, Telangana

207. Poorva Rajaram, Researcher, New Delhi

208. Vanessa Chishti, Jindal Law University, Sonipat

209. Esther Moraes, New Delhi

210. Niti Saxena, Lucknow

211. Tusharika Mattoo, Advocate, Delhi

212. Maulshree Pathak, Advocate Delhi

213. Shreya munoth, Advocate, Delhi

214. Sayali Kadu, Advocate, Delhi

215. Shuchi Dwivedi, Advocate, Delhi

216. Rhea Goyal, Advocate, Delhi

217. Sowjhanya Shankaran, Advocate, Delhi

218. Anushree Malviya, Advocate, Delhi

219. Sonal Sarda, Advocate, Delhi

220. Sanya Kumar, Advocate, Delhi

221. Shreya Rastogi, Advocate, Delhi

222. Harshita Reddy, Advocate, Delhi

223. Sanjana Srikumar, Advocate, Delhi

224. Avantika, Advocate Delhi

225. Ninni Susan Thomas, Advocate Delhi

226. Nidhi Rao Gummuluru, Advocate, Delhi

227. Vasundhara Majithia, Advocate Delhi

228. Meghana Sengupta, Advocate Delhi

229. Shailiza Sharma, Advocate, Delhi High Court

230. Kanika Sood, Advocate Delhi

231. Kruti Venkatesh, Advocate, Bombay High Court

232. Bhavana Sunder, Advocate, Bombay High Court

233. Rhea Jha, Advocate, Bombay High Court

234. Devyani Kulkarni, Advocate, High Court, Bombay

235. Khusboo Agarwal, Bombay

236. Sara Ahmed, Bombay

237. Surabhi Singh, Advocate, High Court at Bombay

238. Ronita Bhattacharya, Advocate, High Court, Bombay

239. Jahnavi Vishwanath, Chennai

240. Janaki Abraham, Delhi University

241. Dimple Oberoi Vahali

242. Vandana Mahajan, A Feminist Practitioner

243. Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Citizen, Alibag, Maharashtra

244. Bebaak Collective

245. Chitra Sinha, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden

246. Sana Contractor, Public Health Researcher, New Delhi

247. Vasudha Sawaiker, Social Justice Action Committee, Goa

248. Amita Kanekar, Writer, Goa

249. Adsa Fatima, Health Activist, Delhi

250. Dr Mira Shiva

251. Dr. Saswati Ghosh, Academic and Activist, Kolkata

252. Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health and Gender Justice, Mumbai

253. Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court

254. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata

255. Bindhulakshmi, Mumbai

256. Kiran Shaheen

257. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad

258. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai

259. Purnima Gupta, New Delhi

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 4:20:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/over-250-women-lawyers-and-academics-appeal-to-sc-for-fair-probe-on-cji-sexual-harassment-case/article26932650.ece

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