Bar council ticks off former judges
The Bar Council of India on Saturday said it was “shocked and surprised” that two retired Supreme Court judges had belatedly raked up the allegation of sexual harassment a former woman employee of the court had levelled against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The BCI said Justices J. Chelameswar and Madan B. Lokur had a personal grudge against Justice Gogoi as they could not occupy the country’s highest judicial office despite being senior to him in the hierarchy.
“The issue of the concocted story of so-called harassment to an unknown lady complainant has been buried to the grounds. But unfortunately we find that few persons are still trying to make unwarranted and uncalled-for comments…,” the BCI, the regulatory body for advocates and legal education in the country, said in a statement.
“We could understand the motive of some lawyers behind such baseless criticisms of the institution, the in-house committee and of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India but now the phase-wise, belated comments of (the) Hon’ble… Justice Madan Lokur and (the) Hon’ble… Justice Chelameswar… is beyond imagination,” the statement by BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra added.
Justice Lokur had in a column in a national newspaper questioned the propriety of an in-house panel probing the woman’s allegation without an external member.
Justice Chelameshwar too had raised the same point in an interview to a website.
The panel of Justices S.A. Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee has given CJI Gogoi a clean chit. The complainant had walked out midway through a hearing, saying she was not allowed to be represented by a lawyer and had felt intimidated by the three judges.
The BCI said Justices Lokur and Chelameswar had both been chief justices of Gauhati High Court while Justice Gogoi was a judge. “Unfortunately neither of them could become the Chief Justice of India and… Justice Gogoi got this opportunity. This depends on one’s destiny and merit,” the statement said.
“In the considered opinion of the Bar and the responsible citizen of this country, if the report of the committee is made public, it would cause serious harm to the lady-complainant. Moreover, the disgruntled elements and people with vested interests will again start making baseless comments: there will be no end to this episode and this would lead to perpetual irreparable loss to our highest office of Judiciary.
“We are shocked and surprised to see the comments of the above-named two Hon’ble Judges after several weeks of the closer of this episode. What is their purpose, we fail to understand?” it added.
“I know… Justice Lokur and… Justice Chelameswar they are very upright, seasoned people. And (the) Bar hopes and trusts that both of them would not make any further statement in (the) press which could further harm the institution.
“(The) Bar has no hesitation in saying that it was these two Judges who had taken (the) lead role in January 2018 in holding a press conference and that was the starting point of deterioration…,” the statement said.
Justices Chelameswar and Lokur, along with Justices Gogoi and Kurian Joseph had addressed the unprecedented press conference on January 12, 2018 where they accused the then CJI Dipak Misra of acting in an arbitrary manner in the allocation of cases to benches of his preferred choice, overlooking other senior judges.