Tag: Sexual harassment

CJI Gogoi case: Mystery deepens over ex-SC staffer’s boycott of inquiry


Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Chief Justice of India

As the former woman employee of the Supreme Court, who has accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual misconduct, walked out of the in-house inquiry, more clarity on the forces, pulling the strings behind the complainant seems to be emerging.

Apart from pleading on hearing impairment, health condition, fear and nervousness without her lawyer before the inquiry panel, etc., the complainant has listed four main reasons for her decision, which are reproduced below:

  • I have not been allowed to have the presence of my lawyer/support person despite my impaired hearing, nervousness and fear
  • There being no video or audio recording of the Committee proceedings
  • I have not been supplied even a copy of my statement as recorded on 26th and 29th April 2019
  • I was not informed about the procedure this committee is following.

But the truth may be hidden elsewhere in her long press release, some excerpts from which are given below:

“…..on 26th April 2019, the Judges in the committee told me that this was neither an in-house committee proceeding, nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding….

“I was orally instructed that I should not disclose the proceedings of the committee to the media and was to not even share the proceedings with my lawyer Advocate Vrinda Grover….

“In the hearing that followed on the 29th April, I was again not allowed to have a lawyer/support person present with me. I was repeatedly asked by the committee as to why I had made this complaint of sexual harassment so late. I found the atmosphere of the committee very frightening and I was very nervous because of being confronted and questioned by three Supreme Court Judges and without even the presence of my lawyer/support person.

“… I went for the hearing on the 30th April with a written letter where I once again explained why I made my complaint of sexual harassment after several months…

“I was told that there were certain questions on facts that they wanted me to answer. I declined to participate any further in the absence of my lawyer/support person. The committee also asked me if I wanted to present any witnesses. I informed them that almost all the witnesses are working in the Supreme Court of India and there is no likelihood of them being able to depose fearlessly before the committee….

“I have not been informed if the committee has sought any response from the CJI to my complaint and I have been left guessing and anxious on all these matters….”

This is the version of the complainant about the hearing. But nobody knows what really transpired there as the other side is not yet revealed.

Apparently, those who are pulling the strings are realizing that the case won’t go their way with an in-house inquiry (and the CJI is still on the high chair). Times of India quoted the complainant as saying “Please don’t forget that I belong to the Scheduled Caste and therefore challenges to achieve something in life is much more daunting” while putting forward her demands before the inquiry panel.

Certainly, the next move of the string pullers is something people would keenly watch for.

These lawyers helped sacked SC staff file affidavit against CJI Gogoi

Advocates Prashant Bhushan, Vrinda Grover, Kamini Jaiswal and Shanti Bhushan (Clockwise)

When online news portals, such as Scroll.in and The Wire carried the story of the alleged sexual misconduct by Chief Justice of India on April 20, many believed it smacked of some sort of conspiracy to intimidate and control the top court, especially when the Lok Sabha polls are on.

During a special hearing by an SC bench, CJI Ranjan Gogoi too had expressed his disgust over the allegations. “After 20 years of selfless service as judge, I have a bank balance of Rs 6.80 lakh. Nobody can catch me on money. People have to find something and they have found this,” Justice Gogoi said.

He had also said that the woman complainant had no occasion to interact with him directly, given the nature of her duties, and suspected some “mischievous forces behind all this”.

Now an article on The Wire, published on April 29, sheds light on the people who helped the woman file the affidavit and send it to the 22 SC judges as well as “select” media platforms, to say the least.

The article, “Days After SC Sought Probe Into ‘Conspiracy’ Against CJI, Advocate’s Story Under Fire” by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta seeks to prove that Advocate Utsav Bains had met the CJI twice before filing a petition alleging conspiracy to “frame” the CJI based on inputs by activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

In the middle of the article, the following paragraphs appear, perhaps inadvertently.

“Bhushan also said he and a few other lawyers like Kamini Jaiswal, Vrinda Grover and his father Shanti Bhushan, had helped the former SC employee file her affidavit against the CJI. The senior lawyer also facilitated her to get in touch with media platforms.

“He said he helped the woman only after he was convinced of her accusations. He then sought advice from retired judges too. He added that the woman was in a miserable condition and has also lost hearing in one of her ears owing to emotional stress.”

The April 20 story appeared in the “select” portals cited excerpts from the said affidavit by a junior court assistant, who alleged that she was sacked from the job because she had resisted sexual advance by the CJI. The woman worked with the Supreme Court from May 1, 2014, to December 21, 2018.