Govt seeks action against ex-judges

Sexual allegations serious, says Veerappa Moily

Govt seeks action against ex-judges

The government on Saturday described the sexual harassment charge against former Supreme Court judge Justice Swatanter Kumar as “serious” and put the onus on the apex court to take action in the matter.

Justice Kumar, who is chairman of the National Green Tribunal, had reportedly denied the allegation as “totally false” and “some kind of conspiracy”, amid demands by lawyers and activists for a probe into the charges.

Union Environment Minister M Veerappa Moily said it was up to the Supreme Court to decide whether to order an inquiry or not.

“It is a serious allegation. It is a matter for the judiciary to decide,” he said.

Within days of Justice A K Ganguly’s resignation as West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairman after sexual harassment charge was levelled against him by a young law graduate who had interned with the senior judge before his retirement, the apex court is once again rocked by a similar charge by another young law graduate, recalling her internship with Justice Kumar when he was a sitting judge in 2011. Attempts to contact Justice Kumar were in vain.

In an affidavit by the 23-year-old graduate to  Chief Justice P Sathasivam, she accused Justice Kumar of “unwelcome sexual conduct and advances”.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, lawyers Kamini Jaiswal and Vrinda Grover, besides women’s rights activist Kavitha Krishnan sought action against the former judge.

Jaising demanded that there should be a system in the Supreme Court to probe allegations of sexual harassment against judges. The court had such a system for staff and lawyers but there was none  covering judges, she said.

The lone woman law officer rejected the view that Justice Kumar was being subject to a media trial. The graduate had complained to the chief justice and only after that the issue was being ventilated in the press, she said.

Jaiswal said the Supreme Court must set up a committee and conduct a thorough probe into the allegation as Justice Kumar was a sitting judge when the alleged incident took place.

They said the case of Justice Kumar was different from that of Justice A K Ganguly, as he had committed the alleged act of harassment after he demitted office as a judge.Activist Kavita Krishnan said the judiciary would do itself a favour by wasting no time in instituting a proper procedure whereby such complaints can be raised by anyone without fear.

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