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Complainant raises concerns in reply to Inquiry Committee
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Complainant raises concerns in reply to Inquiry Committee

Bar & Bench

The former Supreme Court staffer who created a storm by making allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has expressed some concerns regarding the procedure of enquiry that has now been initiated.

As reported earlier, a panel of Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee has been formed to inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. A notice was reportedly sent to the complainant yesterday, asking her to be present before this committee.

In her letter addressed to the three judges on the panel, a copy of which is with Bar & Bench, the complainant has stated that she was not even aware of the composition of the panel before reading news reports revealing the same. Despite expressing gratitude for the formation of the panel, the complainant has raised some concerns regarding the same.

As per the Visakha guidelines put forth by the Supreme Court, the Inquiry Committee looking into allegations of sexual harassment must have a majority of women. Justice Indira Banerjee is the only woman on the present panel.

She has also requested the committee to allow her to be accompanied by a lawyer and a support person of her choice during the hearings. Further, she has requested that the proceedings of the committee be video recorded and a copy of the recording be provided to her “so there can be no dispute about what transpired”.

The complainant states that she is extremely concerned with the statements made by CJI Gogoi and other judges during the hearing of the Special Bench constituted on Saturday.

CJI Gogoi has been accused of sexual assault by a former officer who worked as a junior assistant at the  Supreme Court between May 2014 and December 2018. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the former Court officer has alleged that following the sexual assault incident, she was unceremoniously terminated from her post. Moreover, she alleges that a trail of harassment has followed since her termination, culminating in a frivolous FIR filed in March this year against herself and her family.

On Saturday, CJI Gogoi denied the allegations and further stated that the complainant has criminal antecedents.

Subsequently, the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman, and Deepak Gupta was constituted to take up the matter. Yesterday, the Bench decided to summon Advocate Utsav Bains before the Court, to hear him on certain averments made by him claiming that there is a conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi.

In the meanwhile, reports surfaced yesterday that a Special Panel of Judges has been constituted to look into the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi.