|Ganguly comes out of his office at Bhabani Bhavan. Picture by Bishash Lodh
New Delhi, Dec. 16: A purported account of Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly’s alleged behaviour towards a law intern prompted Delhi police to assume that she would file a formal complaint today but officers said tonight that they were still awaiting word from her.
The police’s expectations rose after additional solicitor-general Indira Jaising disclosed what she said were excerpts from the affidavit of the girl to a Supreme Court panel of three judges.
In an article in The Indian Express newspaper today, Jaising made the purported excerpts public and later said she did so with the “full support” of the intern.
According to the article, Ganguly has been accused of kissing the intern and asking her to share his hotel room to help him draw up a report. The girl refused to do so.
Jaising came down heavily on Ganguly and renewed her demand that the retired Supreme Court judge step down from the helm of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
Ganguly, who has repeatedly denied the charges, told PTI in Calcutta: “That (the affidavit) is supposed to be confidential as it was given before a Supreme Court committee. How can it come out in the open? What can I do? Who is listening to me?”
Jaising said she would like to state “very unambiguously that whatever I am doing, I am doing with her (the intern’s) complete cooperation and keeping her in the loop and I would never ever make a document like this public unless I had her full support”.
Delhi police saw in the assertion a possibility that the girl would give a statement, without which, officers have said, it will be difficult to draw up specific charges against the accused.
“We are waiting for her to record her statement before initiating action against the accused,” said S.B.S Tyagi, deputy commissioner (New Delhi district).
On December 7, the intern had emailed the police that she was on a tour and would “cooperate” on her return. She replied a day after the police requested her to indicate the time and place where her statement can be recorded.
“We have not received any communication from her after that and we hope she will contact us soon. An FIR will be registered against Justice Ganguly immediately once she gives her statement,” the DCP said tonight.
S.N. Singh, the former dean of the Delhi University law faculty, expressed surprise on the delay in lodging a complaint. Last month, the academic had made a representation to the police and asked them to register a case.
“I fail to understand as to why she is not approaching the police even after the revelations of her statement now,” Singh said.
Singh, who had requested Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam on December 6 to forward all the relevant papers to the police, said he had not spoken to the intern personally. “I think she is a strong lady and must come forward immediately and cooperate with the probe so that the case reaches its logical conclusion,” Singh said.
Pressure mounted on Ganguly as political leaders demanded his immediate resignation from the Bengal rights panel.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said: “It is not an untested allegation and, to protect the dignity of his office, he should quit. There is reason to believe on the basis of the report of the three judges that an offence could have been committed. His decision to cling to his office only establishes that even judges, like most in political positions, continue to stick to their office till the intensity of public opinion forces them out.”
But former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: “It is easy to malign somebody. Let it be proved and let him be punished. I don’t mind. I am not holding his (Ganguly’s) brief. Let things proceed according to law. Is there something called law in this country or a mere allegation is enough?”
Law minister Kapil Sibal said he was waiting to see when the apex court “rises to the occasion” to deal with the issue. “Waiting to see when and how the Supreme Court rises to the occasion to deal with Justice Ganguly,” Sibal tweeted.
Later, talking to reporters outside Parliament, Sibal said: “We have faith that the Supreme Court will take the strictest possible action for women’s security, whoever may be the person — be it the retired judge of Supreme Court or anybody else.”
The Trinamul Congress, which has already sought Ganguly’s resignation from the human rights panel, today renewed the demand. Ganguly attended office today.
The Supreme Court had earlier said that “considering the fact that the said intern was not an intern on the roll of the Supreme Court and that the concerned Judge had already demitted office on account of superannuation on the date of the incident, no further follow up action is required by this Court”.
The court said it set up the three-judge panel because it appeared from the media that a serving Supreme Court judge was involved. The panel had said the intern’s statement prima facie disclosed an act of unwelcome behaviour of sexual nature.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj requested President Pranab Mukherjee to start the process of removing Ganguly. “I request the President of India to initiate the process of removal of Justice Ganguly for his misbehaviour by making a reference to the Supreme Court under Section 5 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993,” she tweeted.