CJI describes sexual harassment complaint as attempt to weaken judiciary’s independence
New Delhi: A three-judge special bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising of justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, was constituted today to take up the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI.
A woman in her mid-30s, who was a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India, lodged a complaint with 22 judges of the court on Friday, April 19. She has accused the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of making sexual advances at his residence.
The complainant’s background is suspect. Both her husband and brother-in-law are caught in a criminal case.
Though the CJI chose not to recuse himself from the hearing, he said during proceedings in this matter: “I am not going to be a part of the judicial order. Justice Arun Mishra is the senior most judge available in Delhi and he will dictate the order” .
The apex court registry this morning issued a notice this morning. It said: “Take note that a special bench consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna is being constituted to have a special sitting at 10:30 AM. Today, i.e. the 20th April, 2019 in the Chief Justice’s Court to deal with a matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary, on a mention being made by Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General.”
The Supreme Court straight away constituted a three-Judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice himself to proceed with the matter. Question arises why the complaint has not been taken up under the Sexual Harassment Act, which was preceded by the Visaka Guidelines framed by the Apex Court.
Vishakha Guidelines & Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act
The Vishakha Guidelines or the set of procedural guidelines for use in India in cases of sexual harassment were promulgated by the Supreme Court of India in 1997 and superseded in 2013 by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Internal Complaints Committee
The Sexual Harassment Act requires an employer to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to investigate complaints regarding sexual harassment.
The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 also sets out the process to be followed for making a complaint and inquiring into the complaint in a time bound manner.