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SC harassment panel gets two complaints

New Delhi, Jan. 31: A Supreme Court committee formed in the wake of an intern’s sexual harassment allegations against retired judge Asok Kumar Ganguly has received complaints from two women advocates against fellow lawyers, sources said.

The complaints are being heard by a three-member sub-committee, the sources said, citing a report by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, the sitting judge who heads the Supreme Court Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee. The victims’ statements have been recorded, they said.

One of the victims had allowed video-recording of her deposition but the other had opposed such a procedure, the sources added.

Both incidents occurred last year, they said, but refused to specify the nature of the harassment or the exact timing.

The allegations are against senior advocates, not judges, the sources underlined.

Besides Justice Ganguly, another retired judge, Justice Swatanter Kumar, had been accused of harassment. Justice Ganguly had to resign as Bengal human rights commission chief following the controversy. Justice Kumar’s matter is pending in the apex court.

“The internal sub-committee initiated the process of examining the two complaints. As far as Complainant in GSICC No. 1/2013 is concerned, her statement was video-recorded on 12.12.2013. The Complainant in GSICC No. 2/2013 appeared on 16.12.2013 and the video-recording of her statement was deferred at her request,” Justice Desai said in her report.

The 10-member gender sensitisation committee was constituted on November 26, 2013, in the wake of the allegations against Justice Ganguly. While Justice Desai is the chairperson, its other members include Justice Madan B. Lokur and Supreme Court lawyers.

The sub-committee handling the two lawyers’ complaints has three members — senior advocates Indu Malhotra and L. Nageshwar Rao, both members of the 10-member committee, and Bharti Ali, co-director of an NGO, HAQ Centre for Child Rights.

According to Justice Desai’s report, the sub-committee was constituted at the first meeting of the gender sensitisation committee held on December 9, 2013.

The report was tabled today by Justice Desai under the Gender Sensitisation and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Supreme Court of India (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulations, 2013. The 10-member panel was formed under these rules.

The dossier was titled “annual” report and, though the panel was formed late in the year, it referred to alleged incidents through the year.

An annual sum of Rs 5.2 lakh has been earmarked for the panel’s expenses, according to the report.