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Justice NV Ramana who was part of the Committee tasked with inquiring into the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi has categorically rejected the aspersions cast upon his impartiality by the complainant. He has, however, recused from the committee in order to allay any suspicion regarding the propriety and wisdom of the Supreme Court.
In his letter, Justice Ramana at the outset notes the objections raised by the complainant regarding his presence in the Committee.
He then goes on to categorically reject the baseless and unfounded aspersions cast on his capacity to render impartial judgment in the matter.
Ramana J. explains his position regarding the two grounds taken by the complainant in her letter.
The first is the ground based on his speech on the occasion of Centenary Celebrations of the High Court Building at Hyderabad.
The topic of the speech was “Judicial Journey – The Road Ahead”. It was decided at least two weeks prior to the receipt of the complaint in the instant matter.
As a part of a broad analytical and factual discussion of the topic, which included discussions about the pendency of cases, use of technology and issues relating to the Bar, he also spoke about personal attacks against members of the judiciary seeking to cast aspersions on their ability to render impartial judgments. If anything, the implicit assumption of that portion of the speech was that conduct of judges ought to be exemplary so as to protect the dignity of the judicial institution from these frequent attacks, Justice Ramana states in his letter.
Judges, therefore, ought not to be cowed down in upholding the dignity of the judiciary. The fact that this assertion, on the need to protect the dignity of the judiciary, is now being used to allege bias is a sad reflection of the state of affairs, states Ramana J.
Regarding the second apprehension that he is a close friend of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and like a family member of Gogoi J., Justice Ramana says that he is required to attend official meetings at the residence of the Chief Justice of India just like any other Supreme Court judge.
Judges and CJI regularly meet each including socially. Moreover, the Chief Justice of India is primus inter pares, who allots a variety of administrative duties and responsibilities to the Judges. Thus, the judges often meet Chief Justice of India in connection with the same. His visits to the residence of Chief Justice of India cannot, therefore, suggest any proximity than what is absolutely normal under the circumstances. Thus, the apprehension expressed by the complainant in this regard is wholly misconceived, the letter states.
Thus, he rejects the aspersions casts by the complainant.
However, he goes on to state that he is recusing from the committee so as to avoid any suspicion that the Supreme Court will not conduct itself in keeping with the highest standards of judicial propriety and wisdom.
His recusal should be a clear message to the nation that there should be no fears about the integrity of the Supreme Court.
“Let my recusal be a clear message to the nation that there should be no fears about probity in our institution, and that we will not refrain from going to any extent to protect the trust reposed in us. That is, after all, our final source of moral strength.”
Interestingly, he concludes the letter by stating that no one who approaches the Court should have the power to determine the forum and subvert the processes of justice.
“It is true that justice must not only be done, but also manifestly seem to be done. Let me also caution, at this stage, that it is also equally true that no one who approaches the Court should have the power to determine the forum and subvert the processes of justice. Let not my recusal in the instant matter be taken to mean, even in the slightest of measures, that we have transgressed either of these principles.
I wish to say nothing further.”