Bengal Raj Bhavan employee moves Supreme Court for action against state Governor over sexual harassment charges

The woman claimed she has been rendered "remediless" due to the constitutional immunity granted to the Governor.
Last Updated : 03 July 2024, 23:57 IST

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New Delhi: A female employee of West Bengal Raj Bhavan has filed a plea in the Supreme Court for a direction to the West Bengal police to investigate the allegations of sexual harrasment made against against Governor C V Ananda Bose.

She also asked the court to frame guidelines and fix qualification to the extent of the immunity enjoyed by the constitutional figure under Article 361 of the Constitution.

She claimed she has been rendered "remediless" due to the constitutional immunity granted to the Governor.

Article 361 (2) of the Constitution stated no criminal proceedings can be instituted or continued against the President, or the Governor of a state, in any court during their term of office.

Referring to the provision, her plea contended that such powers cannot be understood to be absolute so as to enable the Governor to do acts which are illegal or which strike at the root of Part III of the Constitution.

It said the immunity cannot impair the police’s powers to investigate the offence or even naming the perpetrator in the complaint/FIR, despite specific averments to that effect.

"The petitioner in fact, also wrote a complaint to Raj Bhavan highlighting her grievances only to be subjected to humiliation in the form of inaction by concerned authorities, and being made a mockery of in the media and termed as a political tool, without any safeguards for her self-respect," her plea stated.

The petitioner contended no person is above the law and under the garb of the constitutional immunity, the Governor is by no means permitted to act inappropriately and inflict gender violence when every other citizen of the country is prohibited to do the same.

This directly impinged on the fundamental rights guaranteed to every individual including the petitioner herein under the Constitution, she stated.

“Making the petitioner, a victim in the present matter a liar, while ensuring that the accused/Hon’ble Governor, proceeds to himself give his own self a clean chit. Such unfettered exercise of power shall set a wrong precedent leaving sexual victims remediless which shall be in complete violation of the constitutional scheme,” the plea said.

She further contended the immunity under Article 361 (1) of the Constitution, does not take away the power of the apex court to examine the validity of the action including on the ground of ‘malafides’.

“Therefore, considering the interpretation of Article 361 of the Constitution with respect to civil immunity and its limitations, an analogy can also be drawn so as to interpret the criminal immunity, under the said Article,” it added.

On May 02, 2024, the petitioner wrote a complaint to the Officer in Charge, Raj Bhavan, Kolkata on the basis of the instances, accusing the Governor of sexually harassing her on the pretext of offering her a better job.

Her plea also cited press report of May 15, 2024, that an Odissi dancer from Bengal had also filed a complaint in October 2023 accusing the Governor of sexually abusing her in a Hotel in New Delhi in January 2023, according to an inquiry report submitted by Kolkata Police to the state government in May 2024.

Published 03 July 2024, 23:57 IST

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