Sexual harassment charge against CJI Ranjan Gogoi by former court employee

Justice Gogoi himself presides over hearing, says someone wants to deactivate the office of CJI

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 20.04.19, 12:52 PM
  • Updated 20.04.19, 12:57 PM
  • a min read
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Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Telegraph file photo

The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Saturday held an extraordinary hearing after a former employee of the apex court accused Justice Gogoi of sexual harassment and persecution.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Gogoi was constituted after a sworn affidavit by the woman, copies of which were sent to the residences of 22 apex court judges, became public on Saturday.

During the hearing in the CJI's court No 1, an unfazed Justice Gogoi said the allegations are unbelievable. "This is unbelievable. I don't think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations," he said, adding, "There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate the office of CJI."

The apex court registry in a notice earlier in the day said a three-bench headed by the CJI was being set up to deal with a "matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary". The bench also comprised Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna

The former employee has described two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, only days after he was appointed as the CJI.

Confirming that a letter by the woman has been received by several sitting judges, Supreme Court secretary general Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar said all the allegations made by the woman concerned are malafide and have no basis. "No doubt, it is a malafide allegation," he said.

Stating that it was leaving it to the wisdom of media to act responsibly on allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, the court said the independence of judiciary is under "very, very severe" threat. "After 20 years of selfless service as judge, I have bank balance of Rs 6.80 lakh," Justice Gogoi said. "Nobody can catch me on money, people have to find something and they have found this: This is the reward CJI gets after 20 years of service," he added.

He made it clear that he will preside over the CJI court and discharge his judicial functions without any fear. "I have taken this unusual and extraordinary step of sitting in court today because things have gone too far," he said. The judiciary can't be made a scapegoat, he said.