New Delhi, May 22: Days after the Supreme Court appointed three-judge in-house committee gave a clean chit to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on charges of sexual harassment and denied the complainant its findings, Justice Madan B Lokur said the woman must get the report. Justice Lokur, who retired from the apex court last December, also said that in his view the woman, who is a former Supreme Court staffer, "was not treated fairly".
The Internal Committee, comprises Justice SA Bobde, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra, said that the "in-house procedure was not liable to be made public." Reacting to this, Justice Lokur said that the woman must be given a copy of the report "so that she gets answers to the questions that she and others have raised". He said the earlier ruling cited by the panel to deny the complainant the report is "irrelevant". 'Disappointed, Dejected', Says Complainant After SC In-House Panel Clears CJI.
"The Secretary-General declined to give a copy of the report to the staffer by referring to a judgement in the case of Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India. That decision is not at all relevant," Justice Lokur was quoted by The Indian Express as saying. He said the procedure of conducting in-house inquiry does say that the complainant cannot obtain a copy of the report.
"The procedure for conducting an in-house enquiry merely says that a copy of the report shall be furnished to the judge concerned. There is no prohibition in giving a copy of the report to the complainant — neither the in-house procedure refers to any prohibition nor does the judgement of the Supreme Court refer to any such prohibition. Besides, under what law can the report be denied to the complainant?" he said.
Justice Lokur also questioned the handling of the matter by the apex court judges. "Firstly, the Internal Committee was not an in-house enquiry of the kind understood by the judges of the Supreme Court in 1999-2000 when the in-house procedure was adopted. Secondly, the decision was rendered in the context of a formal in-house enquiry and not in the context of informal in-house proceedings or Internal Committee proceedings," he said.
The woman had sought a copy of the Internal Committee's report saying that under the current laws on sexual harassment at the workplace, she was entitled to a copy of the report. The panel, giving clean chit to Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said it found nothing substantial in the allegations.
Justice Gogoi appeared before the in-house panel on May 1. When the allegations of sexual harassment first surfaced on April 20, the CJI held an urgent hearing and he categorically denied the woman's allegations. Justice Gogoi termed it as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.