Supreme Court ‘plot’ scan after sexual harassment charge probe on CJI Gogoi ends
The former Supreme Court judge appointed to probe the alleged conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case plans to begin his investigation only after an in-house panel completes its inquiry into the veracity of the allegation.
“Yes, I have decided to start my probe only after the conclusion of the in-house panel probe into the sexual harassment allegations,” Justice A.K. Patnaik told The Telegraph on Saturday.
A three-member in-house panel of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice S.A. Bobde, is examining a sacked apex court employee’s allegation that Justice Gogoi sexually harassed her.
An apex court bench had on Thursday appointed Justice Patnaik to investigate an advocate’s claim of a conspiracy to frame the Chief Justice.
Justice Patnaik declined to speculate how long he or the in-house panel might take to finish their probes.
“Sorry, it would not be proper for me to say how much time the in-house panel will take to complete the probe. It is for that committee to decide,” he said. “I hope the in-house panel probe will be over soon.”
He added: “I can’t say how much time I would take to complete (the ‘conspiracy’ probe).” I can’t say anything on that.”
Justice Patnaik said he was under no obligation to begin the probe immediately as the apex court had neither asked him to do so nor fixed any timetable for him.
He asserted that he would “go into all the questions, including the larger conspiracy”.
The in-house committee of Justices Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee examined the woman complainant for over two-and-a-half hours on Friday. She is expected to depose before the panel again on Monday.
The committee is likely to examine other witnesses besides Justice Gogoi. Indications are that the probe could be wrapped up in another week or 10 days.
While tasking Justice Patnaik with the “conspiracy” probe, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra, R.F. Nariman and Deepak Gupta had on Thursday clarified that his inquiry would not “affect” that of the in-house panel.
Justice Patnaik said the Supreme Court registry had forwarded to him various documents, including correspondence and the affidavit filed by advocate Utsav Bains.
Bains claims that a middleman had offered him up to Rs 1.5 crore to hold a news conference where the sacked employee would air her charges against the Chief Justice.
He has pointed the finger at an alleged corporate-underworld nexus and a group of “disgruntled” serving and former apex court employees.
The top court has asked the CBI, Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi police commissioner to provide Justice Patnaik with whatever help he might need.