Ball set rolling for Justice Ganguly's removal: WB Law minister

Ball set rolling for Justice Ganguly's removal: WB Law minister

West Bengal Law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya today said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already set the ball rolling for the removal of Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly as the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission by writing to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking "appropriate action".

"The Chief Minister has set the ball rolling for Ganguly's removal from the WBHRC chairman's post by writing to the President seeking appropriate action... Now it's in the President's domain," state law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said today.

"The Human Rights is a subject that comes under the Home Department, a portfolio held by the Chief Minister herself," Bhattacharya added.

The WBHRC chairman is not attending office since yesterday, commission sources said.
Asked if he would resign, Ganguly had said, "I have not decided. I am undecided. Time has not come to think about it."

He has since refused any comment on the issue. Asked about the procedure for removal of a chairperson of a state human rights commission, Bhattacharya said, "The Human Rights Act provides for the procedure for removal."

The Human Rights Act, 1993, as per the WBHRC website, provides that "(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), the chairperson or any other Member of the Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on inquiry held in accordance with the procedure prescribed in that behalf by the Supreme Court, reported that the Chairperson or such other Member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed."

However, the Act also says in sub-section (2) that "notwithstanding anything in sub-section (1), the President may by order remove from office the Chairperson or any other Member if the Chairperson or such other Member is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which in the opinion of the President involves moral turpitude." The President may also remove the chairperson or any other member if he or she is adjudged an insolvent, or engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office, or is unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body or is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee asking him to take "appropriate action" urgently against the "grave misconduct" of former Supreme Court Judge A K Ganguly accused by a young woman law intern of sexually harassing her.

"Today, I have already addressed a letter to the Hon'ble President of India for taking appropriate action urgently for the grave misconduct committed by Retd Justice A K Ganguly," Banerjee said in a Facebook post.

Banerjee's first comments on the issue came after a Supreme Court committee of three judges indicted Ganguly for his "unwelcome behaviour" and "conduct of sexual nature" towards the law intern, prompting demands that action under criminal law should be initiated against him.

Justice Ganguly, who retired from the apex court more than a year ago, was accused by the intern of sexually harassing her, a charge strongly denied by him, in a hotel room in Delhi last year.

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