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AK Ganguly named by #InternJudge sex harass panel; Ganguly denies, says ‘victim of circumstance’

Ex-Justice AK Ganguly named by committee, denies allegations: 'Victim of situation'
Ex-Justice AK Ganguly named by committee, denies allegations: 'Victim of situation'

The panel in the three probe judicial inquiry into allegations of sex harassment against a former apex court judge, has submitted its report to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), identifying former Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly as the alleged perpetrator.

The report was submitted yesterday after the three judges met six times, reported IANS, containing statements from the alleged victim (“SJ”), a young lawyer who had also interned in the Supreme Court, and a statement of Ganguly, who retired from the Supreme Court in February 2012.

A court official reportedly said:

“The committee constituted to inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by the law intern against a former SC judge held its meetings on November 13,18, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27.

“The statement of law intern was recorded. She had also submitted three affidavits. The statement of Mr. Justice (retired) AK Ganguly has also been recorded by the committee. The committee has submitted its report to the CJI on November 28.”

Ganguly denied the allegations, according to NDTV’s Twitter feed. In a telephone interview, Ganguly told NDTV: “I have denied in my statement about all allegations of sexual harassment. I’m totally innocent, and am a victim of situation.”

Responding to whether he had a comment to SJ’s allegations, he said: “I have worked with several interns in my life, a large number of them. I treat them like my children, they are all well placed in several places in their life. Nobody had made any allegations [before], I am shocked and shattered.”

He told NDTV that he did not know yet how he would move forward, and added, “Please don’t compare this case with Tejpal’s case, please.”

Ganguly told CNN-IBN, according to Firstpost:

“I totally deny the allegation and I am a victim of situations… Of course I knew the intern, she worked with me, she even came to my house. She never raised any of these issues with me… When I was in Delhi, she was also there.. She knew I was there so she came on her own. She came, she had dinner with me and thereafter she left… She is like my child and I have treated with kindness… I am very sorry and shocked… In her blog she says she has respect for me… she has not suffered no physical harm or injury… How can I prove the negative?”

He reportedly added:

“I still don’t have a copy of the affidavit filed by her… I know people will judge me, but I still have faith in people. I have not spoken to the girl… I tried twice but she did not respond… People of the country will judge my judicial work.”

PTI reported Ganguly as saying that “if anybody feels uncomfortable to work with me she was free to leave”. Responding to whether the inquiry would pass stricture against him, he said that “I don't know what kind of strictures will be there” in response to whether

SJ had requested the inquiry to keep her deposition and evidence confidential.

Ganguly told CNN-IBN: “With a very heavy heart, I want to say if this trend continues, it will be difficult for upright judges to continue… I am not saying anyone is biased… I’m just saying this trend is dangerous.”

NDTV reported that the Supreme Court deputy registrar as saying that Ganguly had deposed before the inquiry, for which SJ had submitted three affidavits in addition to her deposition before the inquiry on 18 November. NDTV sources said that they had told the committee that Ganguly’s name should be disclosed to lift suspicion from other recently retired judges, though no one knew what the committee had recommended in its report.

Several media reports, citing unnamed sources in the court or sources supposedly close to the accused judge, had misreported several aspects of the inquiry, erroneously claiming that SJ had not named the judge before the inquiry, that she had ruled out any legal action, and that she had left the committee hanging by not appearing a second time. SJ later released a statement requesting media reports to stop distorting facts and that she remained confident in the inquiry.

A friend of SJ told Legally India two weeks ago that SJ had in fact told the committee the name of the judge, had not precluded further legal action, and had let the committee know she would not appear a second time.

Ganguly: Human Rights Commission & NUJS

AK Ganguly is currently the chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission and an honorary professor at NUJS Kolkata, where SJ was a student while she interned with him.

Outlook reported on 25 November that:

teachers, administrators and students of the university the girl graduated from [NUJS] confirmed that SJ and another graduate did go to work for the said judge [Ganguly] in 2012. The two law students were informally deputed to work for the retired SC judge as research associates on a book he was writing.

The judge had requested the university’s vice-chancellor [Prof Dr Ishwara Bhat] to send him interns for this purpose. The V-C obliged and SJ and another student were sent. The judge is currently an honorary professor at a law university where he teaches a course on constitutional litigation…

[NUJS vice-chancellor Bhat] said “it’s really quite embarrassing”. He would not officially confirm or deny whether SJ had worked for the judge in 2012 on the said date. He insisted he was unaware whether any student had been sent to work with the judge. He said there was no complaint yet and therefore the university could not be expected to act on a blog post. On the judge’s affiliation with the university: “He is taking a class. It will continue. We will provide any support that is necessary to the legal system.”…

Ganguly said, according to a PTI report today, that SJ had not been officially allocated to work with him but replaced another intern who went abroad after getting married: “I never put up a poster. She came on her own.”

Outlook wrote:

The alleged incident took place in a pro­minent hotel on Christmas eve where the judge was staying during a visit to the capital. SJ was summoned by the judge to his hotel. It is learnt that he even asked the hotel staff to arrange for a separate room for her. After they dec­lined his request, he apparently sug­gested that SJ stay in his room given the apparent danger to women during late hours in Delhi. She decli­ned. He then allegedly made the advan­ces, the girl now reports. She went to the lobby, sought help and left the hotel.

At the Supreme Court from 17 December 2008 until 3 February 2012, Ganguly passed many important judgments, perhaps most notably when he presided over the bench that quashed 2G mobile phone licences that were awarded improperly [Wikipedia].

Before he was elevated to the apex court, he was the Chief Justice of the Orissa high court between 2007 and 2008, and the Madras high court from May until December 2008. He had started his judicial career in 1994 at the Calcutta high court.

The allegations’ history

Late on 11 November a second former student intern of Ganguly corroborated parts of SJ’s account in a comment made on social media, as reported by Legally India on 14 November. She wrote that she had reprimanded Ganguly about the alleged incident, and the former judge had “promised, incidentally, that he would never misbehave with another lady”.

The Supreme Court commission of Justices RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai was set up on 12 November, a few hours after the allegations had hit the mainstream media earlier that day, following an interview with SJ in Legally India the previous day and a blog post by SJ with the allegation on 6 November.

On 17 November, before Ganguly’s name was publicly linked to the allegation, he was reported by the Mail Today to have said: “I do not want to make any comments at this juncture. But this allegation is coming after almost a year and that too through a blog. A committee has been formed by the Supreme Court and it will take a decision after recording the girl's statement.”

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