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Sexual Harassment Allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Day 3: Live Updates from SC

Sexual Harassment Allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Day 3: Live Updates from SC

Bar & Bench

The hearing in the suo motu case initiated following allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi (In Re: Matter Of Great Public Importance Touching Upon The Independence Of Judiciary ) is currently underway at the Supreme Court.

A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta is hearing the matter. During the hearing yesterday, Advocate Utsav Bains appeared before the Court to submit that there is a conspiracy in the works to frame CJI Gogoi. In this regard, he also submitted an affidavit in a sealed cover to the Bench yesterday.

Taking serious note of its contents, the Bench had also called for a closed chamber meeting with the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Delhi Police Commissioner, and the Intelligence Bureau Chief the same afternoon.

In the post-lunch session, Bains told the Court that he would file a second affidavit on the alleged conspiracy against CJI Gogoi today. Accordingly, the matter was listed for hearing at 10.30 am today.

To read an account of yesterday’s hearing here, click here.

Live updates of today’s hearing follow.

  • Attorney General KK Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reach the court. ASG Pinky Anand is also seated in the front row.
  • Bench assembles. Utsav Bains reaches court right in the nick of time, hands over sealed cover to the Bench. Bench going through the contents of sealed cover.
  • On privileged communication claimed by Bains on certain communications, Attorney General KK Venugopal says Section 126 of Indian Evidence Act will have no application in this case.
  • Who is his client? According to his affidavit, one Ajay came to him for arranging a press conference and offered Rs. 50 lakh. But he declined. So Ajay is not his client.
  • Even if Ajay is his client, second proviso of S. 126 comes in, submits AG KK Venugopal.
  • SCBA President Rakesh Kumar Khanna making submissions now.
  • Under S. 162 of Evidence Act, court can direct production of these documents over which privilege is claimed, submits Rakesh Kumar Khanna.
  • Rakesh Kumar Khanna citing judgments on power of Court to seek production of documents over which privilege is claimed.
  • Sr. Adv Indira Jaising taking certain objections to the order passed by Supreme Court yesterday.
  • Jaising expressing apprehension that this Bench might go into the allegations of the lady. In which case, both the proceedings should be clubbed and heard together We will clearly say that we wont go into allegations of sexual harassment, remarks Arun Mishra J.
  • I have recofirmed the entry of the car without sticker. I have enquired about procedure for such entry. And it cannot be done without knowledge of Registry. So credentials of Utsav Bains must be gone into. Court should make sure he has come with clean hands, Indira Jaising.
  • Solicitor General Tushar Mehta reiterates demand for SIT probe.
  • “The way this institution is being treated for the last 3 to 4 years is as if this institution is going to die. People of this country should know the truth. Do the powerful of this country think they can run this country?”, an agitated Justice Arun Mishra says.
  • “Every day we hear of Bench fixing. Can Registry be allowed to be managed by muscle and money power? This institution belongs to you (Bar). This institution has been built by Nani Palkhivala, Attorney General Fali Nariman etc. We (judges) come and go”, Justice Arun Mishra.
  • “Mr. Mehta, don’t provoke us to say many things”, Justice Arun Mishra says. “I am also saying exactly what Your Lordships are saying, institution should be protected”, says SG Tushar Mehta. “Govt should be kept out of this matter”, Indira Jaising.
  • Supreme Court reserves order in the matter. Order to be pronounced at 2 pm today.

After reports of the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi first broke last Saturday, a Special Bench was immediately convened to look into the matter of grave public importance touching upon the independence of the judiciary.  This Special Bench had comprised CJI Ranjan Gogoi along with Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, However, the Court order passed that day did not reflect the name of CJI Gogoi.

Subsequently, the present Bench was constituted to take up the matter. This Bench clarified yesterday that it would only look into whether there is a conspiracy afoot against CJI Gogoi and a threat to the independence of the judiciary.

In the meanwhile, a Special Panel of Judges was constituted to look into the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi. This panel is headed by Justice SA Bobde, who is in line to become the next Chief Justice of India. The other members are Justices NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee.

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.

All the allegations have been denied by the Supreme Court Secretary General’s office. The response also asserts that the motive behind the “false and scurrilous allegations” is “obviously mischievous.”

Update: The order was pronounced at 2 pm. Read the order below.