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‘Second Intern’ posts to social media, says ex-judge promised never to molest anyone again

A second intern's comment was left under a Facebook post by NUJS professor Shamnad Basheer
A second intern's comment was left under a Facebook post by NUJS professor Shamnad Basheer

A post on social media corroborated parts of the sexual harassment allegations against a former Supreme Court judge made by one of his former research assistants (“SJ”).

Another intern to the judge (the “Second Intern”) published her account on social media on the evening of Monday, 11 November 2013, under her own name.

The Second Intern was not reachable and did not respond to requests for comment or agree to disclosure of her identity. However, Legally India reliably understands that she was also an intern of the same judge with whom SJ had interned.

The Second Intern wrote in a Facebook comment in a discussion on Monday evening that she had herself been “at the receiving end of unsolicited sexual advance [sic] more than once”. However, after confronting the judge with SJ’s allegation he promised “that he would never misbehave with another lady”, according to the Second Intern’s social media post. (see below)

The initial allegations were made on 6 November in a blog post by SJ, in which she was trying to come to terms with the experience, explaining in detail her decision on why she had decided to share it publicly (“I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation”) while at the same time deciding not to name the judge and bring a formal complaint against him (“I bore, and still bear, no real ill-will towards the man, and had no desire to put his life’s work and reputation in question”).

SJ expanded upon her blog post in an interview with Legally India on the afternoon of Monday 11 November, revealing that she had heard of “three other cases [of sexual harassment] by the same judge and I know of at least four other girls who’ve faced harassment from other judges - not perhaps as [bad as mine]: most of them were in the chambers of the judge and other people around, so it never gets too bad.”

“A girl I know faced continuous sexual harassment throughout and sexual advances, and actually faced troubles through her work because of it,” said SJ.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court constituted a three-member committee of judges to look into the allegations after the story made national newspaper and TV headlines, with SJ having been requested to appear before the inquiry on Monday.

Update 15 November, 2:28am: The Second Intern’s post appeared on Facebook as a comment in an online discussion surrounding a public note on SJ’s blog post, which was made by NUJS Kolkata professor Shamnad Basheer on Monday. Since the first publication of this article, the Second Intern’s comments have been deleted from the comment thread on Facebook, in order to protect her identity and privacy, so we can now provide a link to the Facebook thread in which the comment was made.

The Second Intern had written in her Facebook comment:

The funny part is, it was very likely that i would have been the person in [SJ]’s place. I’ve been at the receiving end of unsolicited sexual advance more than once , and so has she [SJ]. And we kept attributing all the signs of leeriness to our hypersensitivity to such situations, mistrusting our instincts. We discussed innocuously said off colour remarks and dismissed their creepiness because we really respected him [the judge], and the possibility seemed at odds with everything we knew about him, his ideas about feminism, patriarchy, social justice...

If only the world was so uncomplicated that you could tell the bad guys from the good guys with a glance. If we weren’t women in a man’s world, we wouldn't need to explain why we didn’t do what the women in Anurag Kashyap’s short film [link] did. You can’t go around beating up your uncles and cousins without risking your family's wellbeing. There’s something at stake which is perhaps important to the people who you care about, even if it isn’t important to you. Like your own life.

In any case, violence is such an easy reaction. And how has that solved the world’s problems, pray? Of course, Mr. Justice lost his RA’s [research assistants], he also got a good talking to, a brushing down that his father should have given him, which he received from a 23 year old girl... And maybe, maybe that is a better route? Not necessarily violent, but not voiceless. Being lawyers, we understand not only the value of being litigious, but also when litigiousness is a handicap, when better results might be achieved without invoking law’s violence to one’s aid, when negotiations and personal confrontations might be better, and when informal means are more useful to achieve the ends we seek.

In this case, we spoke to other women who had worked with him and found out that there was a history to such behaviour. (Perhaps it's a psychological problem, who knows? Some neediness issues.) We also alerted some female senior faculty to the incident so that they would ensure that no female student was assigned work with him without being told to be on her guard.

Why deprive girls from the chance to work with an illustrious mind because the mind is a little sick? A guy who gets the task would get a savvy CV and a better job opp. We didn't want girls to be left at a disadvantage.

After all, maybe his fear of our possible relash could have disciplined him into better behaviour.

He promised, incidentally, that he would never misbehave with another lady. Maybe it's naiveté to believe him. Maybe it’s just youthful optimism. Being brave is tougher than it appears on the face of it, no? [… SJ] has oodles of courage.

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