CJI case: Woman shuns hearings

Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi. PTI File photo

A former Supreme Court employee, who made sexual harassment charges against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, on Tuesday decided not to participate in the in-house inquiry committee of three judges, questioning the procedure adopted by it.

“I felt I was not likely to get justice from this committee and so I am no longer participating in the three-judge committee proceedings,” the woman said in a statement.

After participating in the committee’s proceedings on April 26, 29 and 30, she said she has not been allowed to represent herself through a counsel, and there has not been any video and audio recording of the proceedings.

She said she has not been informed about the procedure, making her feel “helpless and distressed” so she could no longer continue to participate in the hearings. She sought permission for assistance of counsel Vrinda Grover which the committee declined.

“After three days of proceedings, I felt quite intimidated and nervous in front of three judges, who were not even ready to summon the call details records and WhatsApp chats of the relevant mobile numbers,” she stated.

The woman also alleged she was followed by four men in two motorcycles on April 29 and two men on one motorcycle on April 26 after she left the committee hearing.

In her statement, she said despite the fact that this was an in-house committee and not an external committee, she decided to participate in the proceedings.

“This was neither an in-house committee proceeding nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding. I was asked to narrate my account which I did to the best of my ability even though I felt quite intimidated and nervous in the presence of three Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court and without having a lawyer or support person with me,” she said.

The woman, who suffered hearing impairment, said she was not even provided a copy of her statements.

“The committee seemed not to appreciate the fact that this was not an ordinary complaint but was a complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting CJI and therefore it would require to adopt a procedure that would ensure fairness and equality in the highly unequal circumstances,” she said.

The committee, headed by Justice S A Bobde and two women judges Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, was formed last week after sensational charges by the woman against the CJI and her affidavit sent to all judges surfaced in the media.

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