'Impeach HC judge for sexual harassment'

Don't accept victim's resignation, say activists

'Impeach HC judge for sexual harassment'

Prominent women activists, led by former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, on Monday urged Parliamentarians to impeach a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge who is facing charges of sexually harassing of a woman additional district and sessions judge.

Vociferously demanding that the victim’s resignation not be accepted and she be given a “meaningful assignment”, the activists said the high court judge should not be assigned work from Tuesday morning.

Urging for the impeachment of the judge, Jaising said MPs should make it a bipartisan effort and mobilise support for the removal of the accused. 

She said there was intense monitoring of the woman judge in a bid to try and find fault with her work, but none could be found. “A transfer will not do. He has to be suspended.

We do not want him to go to some other high court and harass women there. In a nutshell, our demand is that he should be out and she should be in,” Jaising told a press conference, which was also attended by senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, feminist historian Uma Chakrabarty and activist Sunita Dhar of “Jagori”.

The demands—which also include ordering a probe by the Chief of Justice of India and setting up of permanent internal complaints committees—came as the resignation of a woman judge due to harassment by a high court judge, who is her administrative judge, came to light.

Jaising said the role of administrative judges is the source of many problems as they are “very powerful”. The victim, she said, was a competent judge with an “excellent” Annual Confidence Report (ACR), and there was no complaint against her. “She has resigned to protect her honour,” she added.

Grover said this was not the first instance of serious charges of sexual harassment emanating from the judiciary. The coercive nature of sexual harassment has compelled the woman judge to quit her job, she said.

Grover also raised questions on the way judges are appointed—an issue that Jaising also echoed. Jaising said judges should be checked for their background, including their gender justice history.

“If the judiciary itself indulges in such activities, what is the message it gives to people in other workplaces? Treating it internally is no solution. We do not want domestic resolution. Stop treating this as something trivial,” said Chakrabarty. 

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