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Professor SN Singh, a former Dean of Delhi University’s Law Faculty has filed a complaint before the Tilak Marg Police Station, seeking an investigation into charges of sexual harassment made against a former Supreme Court judge.
Speaking to Bar & Bench Professor Singh said that the 3-member Committee constituted by Chief Justice Sathasivam to investigate the allegations lacks any punitive powers. “Suppose if tomorrow the Committee is to find the accused guilty,” he argues, “what can [the Committee] do?”
Professor Singh’s reaction is one of a varied set of responses following the disclosures made in this blog post by law graduate S. James. In the post, James shares her reaction to and analysis of suffering sexual assault by a recently retired Supreme Court judge under whom she was interning.
Shocked after these allegations, Singh approached the Tilak Marg Police Station with his complaint. “I was shocked when I first heard of these allegations,” says Singh, “our law students work with various institutions and if this is what happens with a judge, one can only imagine the state of other institutions.”
Singh’s complaint, a copy of which is with Bar & Bench, states that the information provided in the blog post as well as an article published in the Times of India, makes out an offence punishable under Ss. 354 (outraging a women’s modesty) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint also states that,
“It is a serious matter concerning [the] legal fraternity, especially women, and it is my constitutional obligation to inform the police to register FIR and investigate the offence….and prosecute the guilty persons to restore the public confidence in [the] Judicial/Police System”
The former Dean is well aware of the fact that the police may face immense pressure in such proceedings, but is willing to approach the Courts should an investigation fail to take place. “The police must investigate the matter,” says Singh, “after all the Supreme Court itself has ruled it so”, referring to the November 11 decision of a Constitutional Bench that mandates registration of an FIR in cases where “..the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.”
Meanwhile, another former intern has alleged similar harassment at the hands of the same judge. A news report posted on Legally India indicates that a former intern wrote about her experiences with the judge while commenting on this Facebook post authored by Professor Shamnad Basheer of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. In the comment, one that was subsequently deleted, the intern has stated that,
“In this case, we spoke to other women who had worked with him and found out that there was a history to such behaviour. (Perhaps it’s a psychological problem, who knows? Some neediness issues.) We also alerted some female senior faculty to the incident so that they would ensure that no female student was assigned work with him without being told to be on her guard.”
At the time of going to press, it was not clear whether the Tilak Marg Police Station have taken any steps following Professor Singh’s complaint.