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CJI to investigate sex harassment allegations of one judge against another

A letter of complaint was sent on 1 August to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) RM Lodha and the rest of the Supreme Court collegium by a female additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior, who resigned on 15 July, allegeging that she was sexually harassed by a more senior male judge of the Madhya Pradesh high court, reported several media outlets.

The district judge, who was part of the district’s anti-sexual harassment committee, alleged that despite having had “excellent and outstanding” appraisals at the beginning of the year, the male judge forced her transfer to a remote location overruling the court’s transfer policy, after she spurned his advances.

She alleged that the judge asked her to “perform dance on an item song” - a message he sent through the district registrar, and when she excused herself with the pretext of her daughter’s birthday, he allegedly responded by saying that “he missed the opportunity of viewing a sexy and beautiful figure dancing on the floor and that he is desperate to see the same”.

She continued spurning his advances, began working longer hours after he became agitatated, and only 15 days after meeting the “irritated” judge with her husband, she was allegedly transferred without heeding her request to extend her transfer to allow her to complete the academic year, she alleged, according to the Times of India:

Mockingly, he replied that I faced this mid-academic session transfer to Sidhi for not fulfilling his aspirations and for not visiting his bungalow alone even once and he also threatened me that now he will spoil my career completely and make sure that I face ruinous prospects all my life.

I, was left with no option but to resign, so, I resigned on July 15 in compelling, humiliating and disgraceful circumstances to save my dignity, womanhood, self-esteem and career of my daughter.

Only because the perpetrator is as powerful as an ‘administrative judge’ that he can cast an evil eye on me, and I do not even get a hearing. What system are we following and leading this democracy to? If this is how a mother, sister and wife can be treated, who is herself no less than a judicial officer duty-bound to protect society and law, what constitutional goals are we serving

Lodha responded, according to the Times that “this is the only profession where we refer to our colleagues as brothers and sisters. This is unfortunate. I will take appropriate action after the complaint is placed before me”, and told NDTV: “I haven’t received the complaint officially... once I get it I will go through the complaint. Normally, we ask for a report on the complaint from the Chief Justice of the High Court. In this case, I will seek a report from the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court and take action accordingly. I will do my best for the institution.”

The accuser had been a judge for around three years and had previously practised as a lawyer in Delhi for more than a decade.

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