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Supreme Court stays disciplinary action against Madhya Pradesh district judge over allegations of sexual harassment

CJI Bobde observed that it has become a trend for allegations to be levelled against judges right around the time when they are being considered for elevation.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today issued notice in a plea filed by a district judge accused of sexual harassment against the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court which dismissed his challenge to the findings of a committee that probed the allegations against him.

The Court also stayed the disciplinary proceedings against the judge.

Earlier, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court had refused to entertain the plea filed by district judge from Dewas, Shambhoo Singh Raghuvanshi, seeking quashing of the show cause notice issued to him by the committee. The Apex Court had asked him to approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court instead.

At that time, it was observed that the case was not fit for invoking the Article 32 jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

After the High Court Bench at Jabalpur dismissed the writ petition on August 14, the district Judge moved the Supreme Court once again. This petition was taken up for hearing today by a Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

While issuing notice in the plea, CJI Bobde observed that it has become a trend for allegations to be levelled against judges right around the time when they are being considered for elevation.

"What has happened is so unfortunate. He was about to be considered for elevation to the High Court and suddenly this complaint from 2018 surfaces and an inquiry is initiated," CJI Bobde said.

The Court was told by Senior Advocate R Balasubramanium that Judge Raghuvanshi is due to retire by the end of this year, and has so far had an unblemished record. The allegations levelled against him by a woman judicial officer have brought him embarrassment, the lawyer submitted.

The Court proceeded to issue notice in the petition, while also staying the disciplinary proceedings against the judge.

A woman judicial officer had lodged a complaint of sexual harassment at the workplace against the judge in 2018. The Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) had subsequently recommended for disciplinary action to be taken against the judge.

In his plea before the Supreme Court, the petitioner judge claims that he has had “an unblemished career of over 32-years with sterling record of service.” Moreover, he alleges that the entire process against him is “vitiated” on account of the same being done without his participation and “behind his back”, and were thereby against the principles of natural justice.

On these grounds, the plea prays that the report prepared by the GSICC in relation to the sexual harassment complaint as well as the show cause notice issued based on this report be quashed.

The judge further argues,

“All these actions have been done at a time when the petitioner is in the zone of consideration for being considered for elevation. The action has apparently been kept pending for last more than two years with a view to harm the career prospects of the petitioner at a time when he is in the zone of consideration.”

The petition was filed through Advocate Sachin Sharma and settled by Senior Advocate R Balasubramanian.

Read Petition:

Shambhoo Singh Raghuvanshi vs MP HC (Petition) (2).pdf
Preview

Read Order:

Shambhoo Sigh Raghuvanshi vs MP HC - 04.09.2020.pdf
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