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SC weighs panel on ex-judges

New Delhi, Feb. 14: The Supreme Court today referred to a three-judge bench the issue related to an intern’s alleged sexual harassment by former judge Swatanter Kumar and the plan for a permanent mechanism to deal with complaints against ex-judges.

A two-judge panel of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi took the decision after taking on record an affidavit by Justice Kumar and posted the matter for further hearing to March 26.

In his affidavit filed yesterday, Justice Kumar had denied the allegations, terming the claims “false” and the result of a “conspiracy”.

Lawyers said it was the first time a former apex court judge has filed such an affidavit proclaiming his innocence. But solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran has advised the Centre that irrespective of the allegations, Kumar cannot be removed from his current post as chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Parasaran said he had told the Centre that the allegations pertained to Kumar’s tenure as a sitting judge and not to his current role as the head of the NGT.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Justice Sathasivam had on January 15 refrained from ordering any probe. Instead, it sought responses from him, Centre and the attorney-general on the mechanism to tackle complaints against all judges, sitting or retired,

This is because the existing anti-sexual harassment committee in the apex court deals only with sitting judges, officials and advocates.

The court had also made it clear that it was not expressing any views on the merits of the allegations against Justice Kumar.