Ranjan Gogoi sexual harassment case: SC reinstates woman employee who accused ex-CJI of misconduct

FP Staff

The Supreme Court has reinstated the woman employee, who had accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, targeting her and her family after she refused his advances.

The Indian Express reported that the woman staffer had rejoined duty but, had gone on leave. Quoting sources, the report added that all her arrears had been paid as well.

The employee had been terminated after multiple transfers on grounds that she had overstepped in questioning her transfers. It was also alleged that she had taken leave without authorisation.

The woman, in April 2019, had accused Gogoi of sexually harassing her while working as a Junior Court Assistant in October 2018. She had alleged that Gogoi used his influence as the senior-most judge in the country to terminate her employment at the Supreme Court, and have her imprisoned under false pretexts when she refused his advances.

The woman, who joined the Supreme Court in May 2014, had claimed victimisation for resisting unwelcome advances when she was posted at the residence office of former CJI Gogoi in October, 2018. She claimed she was later transferred and then terminated from service.

She had further alleged that she was transferred thrice in a matter of weeks and was falsely accused in a bribery case. Her husband, a head constable with the Delhi Police, was also sudden;y transferred from the Crime Branch division.

An in-house special panel of judges was constituted to look into the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi. This panel initially comprised of Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee.

However, after the complainant raised concerns regarding Justice NV Ramana's presence in the panel, Justice Ramana recused from the panel. In a letter penned by the complainant, it was stated that the close relationship shared by Justice Ramana with CJI Gogoi might not allow for an objective hearing of her side. Later, Justice Indu Malhotra replaced Justice Ramana on the panel.

This panel eventually concluded that there was no substance in the sexual harassment allegations levelled by the staffer after four days of sitting.

A short statement released by the Supreme Court reads, "The in-house committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the complaint dated 19.4.2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. Please take note that in case of Indira Jaising versus Supreme Court of India and Another 5 SSC 494, it has been held that the report of a committee constituted as part of the in-house procedure is not liable to be made public."

Describing the allegations of sexual harassment against him as "unbelievable", the CJI had convened the extraordinary hearing at the Supreme Court during which he said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop so low even to deny these allegations.

Gogoi had said some "bigger force" wanted to "deactivate" the office of the CJI.

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