Sexual Harassment Allegations: CJI Appears Before Bobde-Led Panel

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday, 1 May, appeared before an in-house inquiry committee looking into allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former woman employee of the Supreme Court, an official source told PTI.

The former apex court employee dubbed on Tuesday as "very frightening" the atmosphere of the in-house inquiry committee and "walked out" raising various objections including denial of her lawyer's presence.

The committee is comprised of Justice SA Bobde (who is set to succeed CJI Gogoi as the next CJI in November 2019) along with Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra.

Separate hearings in the case regarding a ‘threat to the independence of the judiciary’, initiated as a result of the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, were concluded on Thursday, 25 April.

The judges had on Tuesday ordered Bains to appear before them to explain his claims and provide materials to support them.

To read the full story on the allegations, click here.

  • On Saturday, 20 April, a 35-year-old woman submitted an affidavit to 22 judges of the SC, with allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
  • Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra considering possible threat to independence of judiciary, decides to examine claims by advocate Utsav Bains that there is a plot to frame CJI Gogoi.
  • On Thursday, 25 April, Justice (retd) AK Patnaik was appointed by the court to probe Bains’ claims of a ‘larger conspiracy’.
  • On Friday, 26 April, special committee of Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee conducted first in-house hearing on allegations, attended by complainant,

Up to Media to Act Responsibly: SC

After concluding the hearing of the case, the Supreme Court has said that it leaves it to wisdom of media to act responsibly on allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

SUO MOTO WRIT PETITION by The Quint on Scribd

Larger Conspiracy At Play: CJI

Responding to the allegations, CJI Gogoi said: “Independence of judiciary is under very very serious threat and there is a “larger conspiracy” to destabilise the judiciary.”

'Unbelievable, Very Hurt,' Says CJI Gogoi

Following the charges, CJI Gogoi has said: “Independence of judiciary is under serious threat, very hurt with the allegations being levelled.”

“This is unbelievable. I don't think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations,” he further said.

Didn't Deem Appropriate to Reply to Allegations: CJI

Responding to the allegations, CJI said: “All I would like to say is this, undoubtedly every employees are treated fairly and decently. This employee was there for a month and half. Allegations came and I didn't deem it appropriate to reply to the allegations”.

Reputation is All That We Get: CJI

“No judge is going to decide cases if this is the kind of attack we get. Reputation is only thing we get. Even that is attacked,” CJI said during the hearing.

Complainants' Bail Plea to Be Heard on 24 April

A Delhi court on Saturday, 20 April, said it will hear on 24 April, a police plea to cancel bail of a former Supreme Court employee, who accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, in a cheating and criminal intimidation case.

The police sought cancellation of bail granted to the woman on 12 March, after the complainant claimed that he was being threatened by the woman and her associates.

An FIR for the alleged offences of cheating, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy was lodged against the woman on 3 March, after a complaint was received at Tilak Marg Police Station here by Naveen Kumar, a resident of Jhajjar in Haryana.

Kumar has alleged that the former apex court employee had defrauded him of Rs 50,000, which he claimed she took as part of a bribe, promising him a job at the court in exchange.

Bar Bodies Condemn 'Cooked Up' Allegations Against CJI

The Bar Council of India on Saturday, 20 April, condemned the "false and cooked-up" sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and said the entire bar was standing with the CJI, and against this "attempt to malign the institution".

"These are all false and cooked-up allegations and we condemn these kinds of acts. These kind of allegations and actions should not be encouraged. This is an attempt to malign the institution. Entire bar is standing in solidarity with the Chief Justice of India," Manan Kumar Mishra, BCI chairperson, told PTI.

He said an emergency meeting of the top bar body would be convened on Sunday and a resolution be passed in this regard.

"We will pass the resolution and then try to meet the CJI to make him aware of the (BCI's) decision," Mishra said.

'Nobody Can Catch Me on Money, So They've Found This': CJI

The CJI said that "unbelievable" allegations have been levelled against him and "I do not think I should stoop too low even to deny these allegations. But that comes after 20 years of selfless service as a judge".

"Nobody can catch me on money. People have to find something and they have found this," the CJI said, while making it clear that he has a bank balance of Rs 6.80 lakh apart from around Rs 40 lakh in provident fund after being in service for around two decades.

"I will sit on this chair and discharge my judicial functions without any fear. I will decide the cases in the seven months (of his remaining tenure as the CJI). I will do that," he said.

'Common Thread' in Communications Sent to My Office by News Portals: CJI

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Saturday, 20 April, said there was a "common thread" in the communications sent to him by four news portals that carried stories on allegation of sexual harassment against him, and suggested a "bigger force" could be behind the controversy to "deactivate" the office of the CJI.

The CJI, who was part of a hurriedly convened special bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, said the four news portals -- Scroll, The leaflet, Caravan and the Wire -- have carried the stories on the allegations, as reported by PTI.

"There is a common thread in the communications, and the questions I was asked to answer are common," he said, adding, "they (news portals) gave less than five hours notice to the CJI to respond".

Sexual Harassment Charges Against CJI Must Be Probed from Perspective of Both Sides: Cong MP

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Gowda said the sexual harassment allegations levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi needs to be investigated from the perspective of both the sides, reports PTI.

It is imperative that justice is done to all parties concerned, appropriate procedures are followed and investigation conducted into the CJI's concern that there is some bigger force involved, he told reporters in Panaji.

Allegation Against CJI to Be Dealt As Per Procedure: SCAORA

The Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association (SCAORA) on Monday expressed "deep reservation" against "procedural impropriety" shown by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in dealing with sexual harassment allegations against him and said the charges should be dealt with as per established procedure, reported news agency PTI.

In a resolution passed on Monday, the top court lawyers' body said, "The allegation of the ex-employee of the Supreme Court have to be dealt with as per the established procedure of law and law must be applied in each and every case uniformly".

BJP to Scrap Article 370 in J&K, Introduce NRC Across Country: Shah

BJP president Amit Shah on Monday said his party will scrap Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and introduce National Register for Citizens across the country after returning to power.

Sexual Harassment Charges Against CJI: New Bench to Hear Matter

Amid criticism for the manner in which Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi called a special Supreme Court over sexual harassment complaint against himself, a three-judge bench led by Justice S A Bobde will hear the case on Tuesday, 23 April.

The apex court will consider an affidavit by advocate Utsav Bains where he alleged he was offered Rs 1.5 Cr to hold a press conference on charges against the CJI.

Hearing Adjourned After Advocate Utsav Bains Skips Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 23 April, adjourned the hearing in the matter of the sexual harassment charges against CJI Ranjan Gogoi after advocate Utsav Bains skipped the hearing. The case will be heard on Wednesday, 24 April, at 10:30 am.

Bains has been issued notice for personal appearance, will have to produce documents supporting the claims in his affidavit, that he was approached to conduct a press conference to frame the CJI.

SC Orders Delhi Police to Provide Security to Utsav Bains

The Supreme Court has also ordered the Delhi Police Commissioner to provide adequate security to advocate Utsav Bains, who has claimed that the CJI is being framed in the sexual harassment case.

Justice Bobde to Probe Sexual Harassment Allegations Against CJI

Justice S A Bobde, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, was on Tuesday, 23 April, appointed to conduct an in-house inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

When contacted, Justice Bobde, who is next to the CJI in seniority, confirmed the development.

He said being the number two judge, the Chief Justice of India has appointed him to look into the allegations of sexual harassment charges levelled by a former woman staff.

Justice Bobde told PTI that he has decided to form a panel by inducting two apex court judges – N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee.

Read the full story here.

Probe Against Woman Who Complained Against CJI Violated Natural Justice: Official

The probe into firing of the woman who alleged sexual harassment by CJI Gogoi was “riddled with irregularities and violates the principles of natural justice”, said the official who requested that he be allowed to defend her to The Indian Express.

Laxman Singh Negi, a senior assistant with the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, asserted that his request was ignored and the was not “given an opportunity” to defend herself.

He claimed that the woman not allowed to choose her defence, that the probe continued in her absence when she was ill and that the report was filed within 24 hours.

SC Panel Issues Notice to Complainant, Asks Her to Be Present on 26 April

The Supreme Court panel headed by Justice S A Bobde constituted to look into sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has issued notice to the woman who has lodged the complaint.

The panel conducting the in-house inquiry, which also includes Justices Ramana and Indira Banerjee, has asked her to be present on 26 April.

Utsav Bains Arrives in Court

Lawyer Utsav Bains, who had made a sensational claim that there was a conspiracy to make CJI resign by "framing him" in a false case of sexual harassment, present in Court 4.

Also Read: SC to Examine Lawyer’s Claim of ‘Conspiracy’ to Frame CJI Gogoi

Bench Assembles to Hear Lawyer's "Conspiracy' Claim

Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta assembles, hearing commences.

Bains Submits Materials in Sealed Cover

Lawyer who claimed that there was a “conspiracy” against CJI Gogoi over sexual harassment allegations, said that he was submitting materials in sealed cover to the Supreme Court.

Justice Mishra Calls for CBI Officer

"Can you call a responsible police officer or CBI officer to our chambers today?"Justice Arun Mishra asks Attorney General KK Venugopal.

"There is a significant departure in his affidavit from his post," AG Venugopal said before the apex court, after reading Bains’ Facebook post, where he is alleging conspiracy.

Allegations Must Be Investigated by SIT: Tushar Mehta

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the allegations must be thoroughly investigated by an SIT under the supervision of Supreme Court, reported Live Law.

Police Protection to Bains to Continue

Justice Mishra says that police protection to Utsav Bains should continue.

Bains goes off on a rant about how he's being targeted, how sections of the bar are going after him. He also does not explain the change in his position.

Concerned More About Bains' Affidavit: Mishra

“Right now we should be concerned more about this affidavit,” says Justice Arun Mishra to Bains’ submission, as Senior Advocate indira Jaisingh mentions the affidavit filed by the complainant against CJI.

In-House Probe Over Sexual Harassment Complaint Against CJI Will Continue: SC

The Supreme Court said that in-house probe on allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Gogoi will go on and another independent probe was needed to look into “larger conspiracy” on allegation to malign CJI.

SC to Resume at 3:00 pm

Supreme Court to resume hearing at 3 pm, says it is “something very serious and disturbing” related to independence of judiciary.

Plea to Cancel Bail of Complainant to Be Heard on 3 May

The plea to cancel the bail of the woman, who accused CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, will be heard by Patiala House Court on 3 May, reported ANI.

SC Bench Resumes Hearing

The Bench – comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta – has reassembled to examine the affidavit filed by advocate Utsav Bains, claiming he was offered a bribe to implicate the CJI.

Bains, meanwhile, handed over another document to the judges in a sealed cover.

He has also said that he has confirmation that two of the conspirators – to frame the CJI – had met, and that he will submit details of the same as well.

The judges have asked Bains to submit another affidavit by 10:30 am on Thursday.

Bains' Affidavit Shouldn't Prejudice Investigation Against CJI: Indira Jaising

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, speaking with the consent of the bench, said that while women lawyers were are also worried about the independence of the Judiciary, it should be ensured that Bains’ affidavit does not prejudice the investigation into allegations against the CJI.

“The investigation into Bains’ affidavit should not prejudice the investigation into the allegations against the CJI,” Jaising said.

She argued that the two investigations should take place together.

Responding to Jaising, Justice Nariman said that the ‘sexual harassment allegations aren't before this bench’.

Justice Arun Mishra, meanwhile, insisted that they have to look into Bains' affidavit properly. "Must go into root of the matter"

How Can One Make Allegations, Then Produce Half Documents: Attorney General

Justice Mishra said that he wants advice from the Attorney General or others on whether Bains can claim privilege under the Advocates Act to withhold certain information in this matter, as he has claimed he needs to do.

The Attorney General, meanwhile, said: “I don't understand how can a person make allegations, and then produces half documents in support and thereafter claims privilege over them from disclosure.”

Seek Affidavit From Bains' About His Credentials: Jaising

Senior advocate Indira Jaising asked the Supreme Court bench to seek an affidavit from Utsav Bains about his own credentials.

Doubts were raised about Bains’ credentials over the fact that he had arrived in the SC on Monday in a car which did not have the required stickers to enter the court.

Earlier, Justice Rohinton Nariman had warned Bains against making personal remarks in court.

“We will throw you out if you make any personal remarks against Attorney General KK Venugopal,” Nariman had said.

Following this, Bains had said that he is ‘walking out of the Court’ but Justice Arun Mishra stopped him.

Matter to be Heard at 10:30 am on Thursday

The Bench will take up the matter next at 10:30 am on Thursday, 25 April.

The court asked advocate Utsav Bains to corroborate his contentions that three former employees of SC came together to frame the CJI with the help of some powerful lobbyists. Bains has been directed to file another affidavit on Thursday.

Justice Mishra, while dictating the court order, said: "It becomes our responsibility to keep the institution clean."

"We will inquire and go to the root of alleged claims of fixers at work and manipulating the judiciary. If they continue to work then none of us will survive... Fixing has no role to play in the system. We will inquire and take it to the logical end" the bench said.

Mishra also requested the presence of KK Venugopal and other members of the bar to help the court decide on the issue of privilege over disclosure of documents claimed by Bains.

Bains' Hearing Won't Prejudice Bobde Panel: SC

Responding to the request of senior advocate Indira Jaising, the Supreme Court bench clarified that the ongoing proceedings in response to Bains affidavit wouldn't prejudice or interfere with the probe undertaken by the Justice Bobde-led panel into the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI.

Complainant Against CJI Raises Concern Over Enquiry Committee

The woman who levelled allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Ranjan Gogoi has written a letter raising “concerns and apprehensions” about the enquiry committee constituted to probe her charges.

She had written the letter in response a court notice requesting her presence before the committee on Friday.

She has also raised concerns about the manner in which the CJI had attacked her credibility on Saturday, being allowed to have a lawyer during the hearing, and opined why she would prefer retired judges on the enquiry committee.

Thursday Hearing Begins

The bench assembled at 10:30 am, and Bains filed another affidavit in a sealed cover to them. On Wednesday, he had asked for permission to submit another affidavit, claiming he had received confirmation that two of the alleged conspirators had met.

Bains Cannot Claim Privilege to Withhold Information: Attorney General

In his affidavits, Bains has said that he cannot reveal certain information including some names with the court as these are “privileged communications under Advocates Act.” This is what keeps communications between a lawyer and their client confidential, and is often known as ‘attorney-client privilege’ (though that isn’t the official term in India).

On Wednesday, Justice Arun Mishra had raised doubts over whether this would be applicable, and asked Attorney General KK Venugopal and SCBA President Rakesh Khanna to assist the court in deciding whether or not Bains could claim privilege.

Venugopal contends that he was just approached by one “Ajay” asking him to represent the complainant and organise a press conference. Since he didn’t take up the case, he doesn’t have a client and so privilege doesn’t apply.

SCBA President Rakesh Khanna points to Section 126 of the Evidence Act which creates an exception to privilege when a person asks a lawyer to do something illegal.

Both also point out that the court has powers to direct production of documents over which privilege is claimed. Justice Nariman concurs, saying: “Anyway our power to inspect a document is unbridled.”

Inquiry of Bains' Claims to Remain Separate from Justice Bobde Inquiry

Senior advocate Indira Jaising repeated her request to conduct this inquiry together with special committee’s inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations against the Chief Justice.

The judges refuse, saying they have already clarified in Wednesday’s order that what happens in this matter will not affect the in-house inquiry conducted by Justice Bobde. They say the “wider conspiracy” needs to be investigated, which is what they are doing.

'Have to Tell Rich and Powerful That They Can't Run the SC': Justice Mishra

Justice Mishra once again expounds on the seriousness of the allegations by Bains that there are fixers who claim they can fix Supreme Court judgments and offer to do so for corporate figures.

This comes after Jaising asks for an investigation into Bains’ credentials, and once again raises the question of how Bains was able to enter the Supreme Court premises on Monday in a car without the required stickers (which is when he submitted his first affidavit).

Justice Mishra says there are systematic attempts to damage the judiciary, and that “the way this institution has been treated for the last 3-4 years, it will not survive.” He says they can’t share the details of Bains’ claims, and says:

"“The day has come for us to rise to the occasion and we have to tell the rich and powerful that they can’t run the Supreme Court.”"

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reiterates his suggestion from Wednesday that an SIT should look into this issue. He also claims that there is a possibility that other people than those named by Bains are trying to fix cases.

Bench to Pass Further Orders at 2 pm

The hearing is adjourned till 2 pm, when the judges will pass further orders.

Judges Assemble to Pronounce Order

Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta have assembled to pronounce their order.

SC Appoints Justice (Retd) AK Patnaik to Probe Allegations Raised by Utsav Bains

The bench has appointed former Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Patnaik, to inquire into Bains’ claims of a “larger conspiracy” to frame CJI Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case.

The chiefs of the CBI, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Delhi Police have been directed to provide any assistance required by Justice Patnaik.

Justice Patnaik is to submit his report in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court.

The court has clarified that Bains has to disclose all information in his possession about the issue, as he cannot claim privilege here.

The Supreme Court had earlier appointed Justice Patnaik to supervise the CVC’s inquiry of former CBI Director Alok Verma.

Also Read: Who Is Justice AK Patnaik, the Man Heading Probe on CBI’s Verma?

Justice Ramana Recuses From Justice Bobde Panel: Bar & Bench

PTI is reporting that Justice NV Ramana has recused himself from the three-member committee headed by Justice Bobde that is inquiring into the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi, citing sources.

On 24 April, in her response to the notice from the court about the proceedings, the complainant had raised concerns about Justice Ramana being on the committee, since he is (according to the woman) a close friend of CJI Gogoi, and he had also made comments during a speech in Hyderabad on Saturday where he seemed to indicate that judges are under attack.

You can read the full letter by the complainant here.

Also Read: Complainant Against CJI Raises Concerns Over Enquiry Committee

Justice Indu Malhotra Replaces Justice Ramana in Panel

Justice Indu Malhotra has been inducted into the in-house inquiry panel after the recusal of Justice N V Ramana, according to reports. Now, the panel will comprise Justices S A Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

First Hearing by Justice Bobde Panel Concludes, Complainant Appears

According to PTI, the first hearing of the special committee, to inquire into the sexual harassment and intimidation allegations raised by a former junior court assistant against the CJI, has concluded.

The hearing was scheduled to begin at 12:30 pm on Friday, details of which are to remain confidential. The woman complainant had been issued notice to appear before the committee, and was present for the hearing.

The date of the next hearing has not yet been announced.

In her response to the notice on 24 April, the complainant had raised certain concerns over the initial constitution of the committee and the procedure to be followed, but had confirmed she would attend.

A Big Blow to the Integrity of SC : Santosh Hegde

Former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde said, the integrity of the apex court as an institution has taken a big blow in the backdrop of allegations against the CJI, reported PTI.

“It's a very sad state of affairs irrespective of the ultimate results. The institutional integrity has taken a big blow,” Hegde, a former Solicitor General of India said.

He said it would take a long time for the Supreme Court to come out of “these problems.”

Plea to Gag Media From Publishing Allegations on CJI Rejected

Delhi HC has dismissed plea to restrain media from publishing allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India, reported news agency PTI.

Complainant Opts Out of Inquiry Panel, Says Isn't Hopeful of Getting Justice

Complainant in the sexual harassment case against CJI Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday, 30 April, opted out of the inquiry committee, stating she isn't hopeful of getting justice the way three-judge inquiry panel is examining the matter.

Sexual Harassment Allegations: CJI Meets Bobde-Led Panel

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday, 1 May, appeared before an in-house inquiry committee looking into allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former woman employee of the Supreme Court, an official source said.

This is for the first time in the history of Indian judiciary that a CJI appeared before a committee over allegations of sexual harassment, the source said.

"A letter of request was issued to the Chief Justice of India asking him to meet the committee and he responded it and he met the committee on this issue," the source told PTI.

The in-house inquiry committee is headed by Justice S A Bobde, who is the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court after the CJI, and its two other members are women judges of the apex court -- justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

(PTI)

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