Yet another sexual harassment charge hits SC judge

Yet another sexual harassment charge hits SC judge

A fresh controversy has erupted with another woman intern accusing a Supreme Court judge, who has since retired, of sexual harassment and demands being made for an inquiry by the apex court into it.

TV channel CNN-IBN named the judge, who retired more than a year ago, is currently presiding over a tribunal. The incident allegedly when he was a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

The woman, who was officially interning with the judge which began in May, 2011, had recently filed a complaint with the Supreme Court  along with an affidavit seeking action against him.

The court, however, refused to go into the issue citing the December 5, 2013 full-court resolution in the Justice A K Ganguly case making it clear that "representations made against former Judges of this Court are not entertainable by the administration of the Supreme Court."

Court sources confirmed that the intern was told that her application cannot be entertained in view of the full- court resolution and "she was at liberty to take appropriate remedy under the law".

Reports indicated that the intern, like the first victim, was a former student of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.  She is said to be contemplating filing a petition in the apex court challenging the resolution passed by the full-court.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, who had spearheaded a campaign against former Supreme Court judge A K Ganguly demanding action against him in a similar incident, has now come out in support of the second intern.

"I am very clear that action should be taken and an inquiry should be done by the Supreme Court against the then sitting judge against whom the allegations have been levelled," she told PTI.

The ASG was of the view that the administrative decision of the apex court should not come in the way of holding a thorough inquiry into the alleged incident and she has a information that the resolution of full court is acceptable to the intern.

Jaising said her information was that the full court resolution was not acceptable to the intern and she was preparing to challenge it.

"What the intern plans to do is to take this matter to the court in its judicial capacity. Any resolution of the court passed in an administrative capacity can be challenged in the judicial capacity.

"The petition will have to be heard in an open court. Judges will have to be designated to hear the case and obviously there is no way court can say we cannot hear it," she said.

Jaising said that leave alone the issue of jurisdiction, the apex court has the the duty and the authority to investigate any complaint made by any woman that she was harassed by a person, who was a sitting judge when she was an official intern with the SC.

"There's no way they can wash their hands of it," she said.

The intern is reported to have narrated in an affidavit the nature of harassment which alleged took place in his office in May, 2011.

After objectionable behaviour on the part of the judge, who had allegedly asked her whether she would be comfortable travelling with him during the internship and staying in hotel rooms, she felt uneasy and left the room, she said in the affidavit.

Senior advocate Harish Salve said he has seen the intern's complaint which he felt was "really disturbing" as it pertained to the conduct of a judge.

"I saw the complaint. It is really disturbing as it pertains to the conduct of a judge in his pre-retirement days," he said, adding, "it presents a real challenge to the judiciary and how it handles the situation."

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