Legal lines

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi getting a clean chit from a three-member inquiry committee which found ‘no substance’ in the sexual harassment allegations of a former woman employee of the apex court and further ruling that the report was not ‘liable to be made public’, have created a furore across the country. A protest broke out outside the Supreme Court and women lawyers and members of some non-profit groups turned up outside the SC and shouted slogans. CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said, ‘Procedure seems to be totally unjust… Why can’t the victim be given the report? It’s wrong. When they are dismissing the matter, more questions are being raised about the procedures adopted by the Supreme Court. It’s injustice.’

Lawyer Amritananda Chakravorty tweeted: ‘We were not allowed to protest even for five minutes. First the Supreme Court allows a farce process and then can’t even accept any criticism. Rule of law died thousand deaths.’ Noted jurist Rakesh Dwivedi said suppression of the in-house inquiry committee report giving clean chit to the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment has dented the ‘prestige, credibility and integrity’ of the judicial system. ‘It has been the trait of Monarchy, Imperialism, Dictatorships and Authoritarian Empires to shut out information and knowledge about what may supposedly impact them adversely so as to avoid scrutiny,’ Dwivedi said.

‘Why has our Highest Judiciary relapsed into this Monarchical and Dictatorial Scheme of dispensing justice by seeking refuge behind the smokescreen of informal in-house enquiry at a time when the credibility of the Institution is at stake?’ he said further. He added that the apex court should undergo ‘Agni-Pariksha’ and share the report with the public for larger interest of the judiciary. The in-house committee Monday ruled that there was ‘no substance’ in the allegations by a former Supreme Court employee against the country’s top judge. The panel, which includes Justice S A Bobde, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra, also said its report was ‘not liable to be made public’. This means the inquiry report will not be shared with the complainant. During these days of increased demand for transparency, the Supreme Court should set an example.

NT Bureau