SC to device measures to deal with sexual harassment complaints agnst ex-judges

Last Updated 26 March 2014, 16:11 IST

Two senior advocates today told the Supreme Court to devise some measures to deal with complaints of sexual harassment against its former Judges who are holding position in tribunals and other quasi judicial bodies.

Noted constitutional experts-Fali S Nariman and P P Rao who are assisting the court as amicus curie in a case of sexual harassment filed against its former judge Swatanter Kumar, told the court that there is "grey area" on how to handle such issue by the judiciary and Supreme Court should devise measures for it.

"Judges(howsoever high) are certainly not to be treated as immune from charges of sexual harassment of women at workplace if and when such a charge is made and proved. But the point is that some special measures may have to be adopted for that purpose-qua judges of the High Court and Supreme Court even when they have retired and then hold office as chairman or members of judicial tribunals, since they are a part of the structure or bedrock of an independent judiciary," they told a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam.

They said some steps need to be devised by the Supreme Court along the lines of Parliamentary Act 14 of 2013 for dealing with such complaints against retired judges holding office as chairman or members of judicial tribunals and for remedies.

"There is, however, one grey area- complaints about sexual harassments made against a sitting judge who has since retired- but the allegation pertains to a period when he was functioning as a sitting judge. How will this be determined- is a question that must be also answered by the court," they said in a note filed in the Supreme Court.

On January 15, the court had issued notice to Justice Kumar and had also appointed senior advocates Fali S Nariman and P P Rao as amicus curiae to assist it in the case.

It had also directed Attorney General G E Vahanvati to assist the court in the matter.

The advocates contended that retired judges who are holding positions in tribunals are not protected by the shield of irremovability from office.

The apex court had earlier said that the plea of a former law intern seeking probe against its retired judge Swatanter Kumar for allegedly sexually harassing her be heard by a three-judge bench.

Justice Kumar, who is heading National Green Tribunal, in his reply to the allegations levelled by the former intern, said that the charges against him were part of a malicious conspiracy intended to damage his reputation.

(Published 26 March 2014, 15:53 IST)

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