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Following a wave of criticism of the recent developments in the inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, alumni of National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bangalore have lent their support to demands for a fair procedure.
To this, ex-students of NLSIU have stood in solidarity with the Women in Criminal Law Association (WCLA), which called for the Supreme Court to following the procedure established by law. The statement reads,
“We write to endorse and support the two letters written by the Women in Criminal Law Association that called upon the Supreme Court to follow best practices pertaining to sexual harassment enquiries, as set out in the POSH Act and the Visakha Guidelines.”
The alumni expresses regret at the fact that the three-judge panel probing the allegations is following an “informal” procedure that fall “well below” the best practices to be followed in sexual harassment cases.
Earlier this week, the complainant had withdrawn from the ongoing inquiry proceedings, stating that she felt that she is not likely to get justice from the in-house inquiry panel comprising Justices SA Bobde, Indira Banerjee, and Indu Malhotra. Among the reasons for her doing so was that the panel refused her to be accompanied by a lawyer during the proceedings.
The in-house panel began hearing the matter on Friday, April 26. CJI Ranjan Gogoi reportedly appeared before the panel yesterday.
The WCLA’s letters had raised a number of concerns surrounding the inquiry proceedings before the three-judge panel, based on the POSH Act and the Visakha Guidelines. These included the abscence of an external neutral member with experience in the field of fighting sexual harassment; that panel members should be free from any bias, prejudice or influence of either the complainant or the respondent; and that the panel should have a woman Chairperson, among other concerns.
Read NLSIU Statement