Cabinet to make crucial decision in Ganguly case today

Home minister says it will soon take a call on presidential reference

Cabinet to make crucial decision in Ganguly case today

The Union Cabinet may on Thursday take a decision on whether to send a presidential reference to the Supreme Court for a probe against West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) chairperson Justice A K Ganguly, who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

A law intern had alleged that Ganguly made sexual advances on her in December 2012 inside his hotel room, when she went to assist him in an inquiry into the All India Football Federation. Ganguly has denied the allegations against him.

The Union Home Ministry will submit a note to the Cabinet, which is meeting on Thursday, on moving the presidential reference.

“The Cabinet will take a call on the issue,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters. The ministry will also bring to the meeting the views provided by Attorney General G E Vahanvati, who has noted that a case can be made out against Ganguly, following allegations of "unwelcome behaviour" towards a woman law intern. Vahanvati had given advice to the government pertaining to the case, after which the reference was prepared.

After the Cabinet clears the decision, it will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, who will then send the matter to the Chief Justice of India, seeking a probe into the issue based on the three points raised in the reference.

Ganguly, the WBHRC chairperson, has not been removed without going through the process laid down in law. The chairman of a State Human Rights Commission can be removed on the orders of the President, after receiving the Supreme Court's inquiry report.

According to Section 23 of the Human Rights Act, the chairperson, or any other member of the State Commission, shall only be removed from his office by order of the President, on the ground of “proved misbehaviour or incapacity” after an inquiry from the Supreme Court.

The President had forwarded the letters of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking the removal of Ganguly to the Home Ministry for further action. The ministry then sought the Attorney General's advice on the case against Ganguly.

Vahanvati was asked to give his views on whether any case can be made out on allegations of sexual harassment against Ganguly, his visit to Pakistan without informing the West Bengal government and taking an assignment of arbitration from the All India Football Federation, despite holding a high post in the human rights body.

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