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CJI: Prima facie ‘verbal/non-verbal sexual conduct’ by AK Ganguly but SC can’t act because he’s retired

Sathasivam
Sathasivam

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) P Sathasivam has the judicial inquiry’s conclusion that “prima facie” the intern’s (“SJ”) statements disclosed “an act of unwelcome” verbal and non-verbal “conduct of a sexual nature” by retired Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.

However, the court could not take any action, as the judge had already retired on the date of the incident, and “no further follow up action is required by the Court”.

The statement uploaded to the Supreme Court’s website reads:

Recently, an incident of alleged aberration was reported in the Times of India, New Delhi Edition, on Tuesday, the 12th November, 2013, under the caption "SC Judge harassed me,says intern". Taking cognizance of the fact that such allegation against a Supreme Court Judge will have a direct bearing on the Institution's reputation and credibility, I, on the same day, constituted a Committee consisting of Hon'ble Mr. Justice R.M. Lodha, Hon'ble Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu and Hon'ble Mrs. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai,to ascertain the truth of the allegations. The Committee, having scrutinized the statements of the intern, the affidavits of her three witnesses and Mr. Justice A.K. Ganguly, former Judge of this Court, submitted its Report on 28th November,2013.

Quoting the inquiry’s report, the CJI wrote:

We have carefully scrutinised the statement (written as well as oral) of Ms [SJ], the affidavits of her three witnesses and the statement of Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly. It appears to the Committee that in the evening on 24.12.2012, Ms. [SJ] had visited hotel Le Meridien where Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly was staying to assist him in his work. This fact is not denied by Mr.Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly in his statement.

Further the Committee is of the considered view that the statement of Ms. [SJ], both written and oral, prima facie discloses an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature) by Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly with her in the room in hotel Le Meridien on 24.12.2012 approximately between 8.00 P.M. and 10.30 P.M.

The CJI therefore concluded in his statement:

Considering the fact that the said intern was not an intern on the roll of the Supreme Court and that the concerned Judge had already demitted office on account of superannuation on the date of the incident, no further follow up action is required by this Court.

On account of the fact that report in the Media appeared that it was "Supreme Court Judge", the Committee was constituted and it has submitted its Report. As decided by the Full Court in its Meeting dated 5th December, 2013, it is made clear that the representations made against former Judges of this Court are not entertainable by the administration of the Supreme Court.

A copy of the report, dated 27 November, would be supplied to SJ and Ganguly by the apex court’s secretary general.

The CJI’s full statement on Supreme Court website [PDF]

Background

After the apex court released his name last Friday, Ganguly denied that he had sexually harassed any interns and said he was a “victim of circumstance”. He also said on Tuesday that he had not yet taken a decision on whether he would step down as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC).

SJ had first blogged about the alleged incident on 6 November, saying that she faced “sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather”. In an interview with Legally India on 11 November, she explained that she and other interns had been harassed by an unnamed former Supreme Court judge, which was partially corroborated by a second former intern of Ganguly’s on Facebook. The second intern also claimed that after berating Ganguly for his alleged sexual harassment of SJ, the judge had promised never to “misbehave with another lady” again.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) P Sathasivam convened an inquiry on 12 November as Attorney General of India Goolam Vahanvati filed a petition to take cognisance of the matter.

Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising and senior counsel Anand Grover, both co-founders of the Lawyers Collective NGO, filed an amicus curiae brief on 18 November, requesting the SC to comply with Vishaka guidelines in its investigation and to request other victims to depose confidentially.

A criminal investigation, following a complaint by a former Delhi University law dean, is currently pending with the Delhi police.

See full chronology of developments in the #InternJudge story here

Picture via by Nikhil Kanekal

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