SC ex-judge says sexual harassment charges conspiracy

'Accusations an attempt to malign me'

Former Supreme Court judge Justice Swatanter Kumar on Thursday called sexual harassment charges, brought against him by an intern, a “result of planned conspiracy”.

He assured the apex court of rendering all help in establishing a “permanent mechanism” to enquire into such complaints against judges.

Kumar (66), presently the chairman of the National Green Tribunal, objected to a writ petition filed by the victim in the Supreme Court. She had accused him of “unwelcome physical contact” between May 16 and May 28, 2011, during her internship with him.
He described the allegations as “not only malicious but also intended to malign my image”.

The apex court on January 15 refused to go into the young lawyer’s allegations, but decided to adjudicate on her petition to the extent that it sought direction for putting in place a system in which complaints of sexual harassment against sitting or retired judges could be enquired into in compliance with directions given in the 1997 Vishakha judgment.

In an affidavit filed on Thursday following the apex court’s notice, Justice Kumar raised objection to the maintainability of her petition on the ground that her allegations were “sub judice” before the Delhi High Court.

He, however, expressed readiness to provide “all assistance” through his counsel to the apex court on “the issue of establishing a permanent mechanism to enquire into complaints of sexual harassment against all judicial officers, sitting or retired judges, whether while holding office or not.”

Justice Kumar was the second judge to face allegations of sexual harassment after Justice A K Ganguly, who had to resign as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission last month. In both cases, complainants were students of the Kolkata-based National University of Juridical Sciences.

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