presidential reference to remove ex-Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly from his chairmanship of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission under section 23(1A) of the Human Rights Act.The Attorney General of India, Goolam Vahanvati, will submit a legal opinion by tomorrow on the
According to sources close to the matter, the government has a copy of the report by the three apex court judges, who were of the “considered view” that a former intern of Ganguly (“SJ”) had prima facie disclosed “unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature” by the former judge after his retirement.
While SJ had requested confidentiality of the proceedings, the committee wrote in its report, a copy of which Legally India has seen, that the proceedings would remain confidential only until the final report was submitted to the Chief Justice of India (CJI). Excerpted conclusions of the report were published by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) P Sathasivam on 5 December.
According to the report, SJ’s oral statement was video recorded and she also submitted a signed written statement and the affidavits of three witnesses.
SJ had also requested the inquiry to summon the guest and CCTV records of the Le Meridien hotel of 24 December 2012, the night of the alleged incident, as well as several phone call and SMS records around that date.
The committee wrote that it did not find it necessary to requisition those records but directed the applicable telephone service provider to “freeze” the call and SMS records so they are not destroyed.
Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising on Monday published excerpts of SJ’s testimony, in which described the alleged harassment in detail and noted that Ganguly had tried to call SJ the following day and sent her an SMS apologising.
Ganguly, who was sent a copy of the report, had told the PTI in response to Jaising’s article: “[The testimony] is supposed to be confidential as it was given before a Supreme Court committee. How can it come out in the open?”
Ganguly made a statement before the committee on 27 November at 4:30pm, which was recorded on video. According to the report he “strongly denied” the allegations of sexual harassment but did not deny that SJ had visited him at the hotel on the 24 December to help him with his work.
Ganguly also made a “legal submission” to the inquiry, in which he argued that even if the allegations were true, the alleged harassment took place before the Sexual Harassment Act was enacted and before sexual harassment was an offence. The Vishaka guidelines, meanwhile, only applied to workplaces but the Supreme Court was neither the workplace of Ganguly or SJ at the time of the incident, he argued.
However, the committee wrote that it did not consider that submission because its aim was only to inquire into the facts of the case.