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Intern blogs on autonomy

Asok Ganguly arrives at his office in Calcutta on Tuesday. (PTI)

Dec. 24: An intern who has accused a former judge of sexual misconduct has addressed questions on whether and when she would file a police complaint, saying she has the “discernment to pursue appropriate proceedings at appropriate times”.

“I request that it be acknowledged that I have the discernment to pursue appropriate proceedings at appropriate times. I ask that my autonomy be respected fully,” the intern said in a blog in a segment titled “police complaint”.

The blog sought to rebut the contents of former judge Asok Ganguly’s letter to the Chief Justice of India, which was made public yesterday.

In the letter, the former judge had denied the charges levelled against him, questioned the validity and fairness of the Supreme Court probe and spoken of “a concerted move to tarnish my image as I had the unfortunate duty of rendering certain judgments against powerful interests….”

The intern responded through a blog dated December 23 on the website of the Journal of Indian Law and Society.

Delhi police have not yet filed an FIR against Ganguly, saying they had written to the intern thrice and are awaiting her statement without which specific charges cannot be framed.

Supreme Court lawyer Ajay Agarwal today said Delhi police should immediately contact the law intern and go to her place to record her statement.

“Since the matter is now in public domain, they should not wait for her email. Women police officers should rush to meet her and ask her to record her version. If she declines, then there is no case,” said the lawyer who is not connected with the case.

Delhi police officers said they would write to the law intern again. “As per information available with us, she is in (a city) and we will send our team whenever she responds. We will ensure her privacy,” said Madhur Verma, additional deputy commissioner.

The intern said in the blog today: “It has been widely reported in the news today that former Justice A.K. Ganguly has written a letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. Several questions have been raised in the past few weeks, and I think it is appropriate at this stage, for me to answer some of them.”

Dividing the blog into four parts, the intern said in the first segment titled “Timing and intent of the blog”: “After the incident, when I returned to college, NUJS Kolkata, I spoke to some of my faculty about the incident at different times. Since the incident occurred during an internship, and the university did not have a policy against sexual harassment of women students during internship, it was indicated to me that any action would be ineffective.

“I was also informed that the only route for me was to file a complaint with the police, which I was reluctant to do. However, I felt it was important to warn young law students that status and position should not be confused for standards of morality and ethics. Hence I chose to do so via a blog post.”

On “deposing before the three-member committee” of the Supreme Court, she said: “I did not question the jurisdiction or intent of the Hon’ble three-member judges’ committee at any point, and had full faith that they would establish the truth of my statements. I sought confidentiality of proceedings keeping in mind the gravity of the situation, as well as the privacy of everyone involved.

“The committee acted with great discretion given the delicate nature of the case, and I appreciate that. The prima facie finding of (the) three-judge committee is well known to all.”

She touched upon the publication of “details of my statement” and drew attention to a “timeline for clarity”.

“18th November 2013: I appeared in person before the Hon’ble three-judge committee, and gave oral statement before the committee. I also submitted a written statement to the committee, signed by me before them in person.

“29th November 2013: I sent an affidavit, signed and sworn on the same day, to Ms Indira Jaising, additional solicitor-general of India, disclosing to her the details of my sexual harassment, and requested her to seek appropriate action. The contents of the affidavit are substantially the same as the statements made by me before the committee.

“Even after the operative portion of the report of the committee, was made public, many eminent citizens and legal luminaries continued to deride the committee’s findings, and malign me. Hence, I found it necessary to clarify the details of my statement to preserve my own dignity as well as that of the Supreme Court. Therefore, I authorised Ms Indira Jaising, additional solicitor-general of India, to make my statement public.

“At this stage, I believe that anyone claiming that my statements are false is showing disrespect not just to me, but also to the Supreme Court of India.”

The intern concluded the blog by saying: “Again, I would like to state that I have acted with utmost responsibility throughout, keeping in mind the seriousness of this situation. Those who have been spreading rumours and politicising the issue, are doing so out of prejudice and malice to obfuscate the issue and escape scrutiny and accountability.”