Judiciary cannot be made a scapegoat, says Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while denying the allegations made by a 35-year-old former junior court assistant at Supreme Court
New Delhi: In a startling allegation, a 35-year-old woman has alleged that the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11 last year. The woman, who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India, wrote to 22 judges of the court on Friday making the allegations.
However, the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has denied the charges of sexual harassment leveled by the former woman employee against him. The CJI was hearing a special sitting inside the Supreme Court on a “matter of great public importance”. Besides CJI Gogoi, the bench comprised Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was constituted on Saturday to hear a “matter of great public importance” touching upon the independence of judiciary. The bench was constituted after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who mentioned before the Supreme Court official concerned the allegations of sexual harassment that have cropped up against CJI Gogoi.
During the hearing, CJI Gogoi dismissed the allegations and said they were mala fide in nature. He said it is a bigger ploy to destablise the judiciary. He said this is a “very very serious threat” to the independence of judiciary.
“This is unbelievable. I don’t think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations. Nobody can catch me on money, people have to find something and they have found this. I have taken this unusual and extraordinary step of sitting in court today because things have gone too far,” CJI Ranjan Gogoi told the media.
In the affidavit, the woman said that after she rebuffed the Chief Justice of India, she was moved out of his residence office, where she had been posted in August 2018. Two months later, on December 21, she was dismissed from service. One of the three grounds for dismissal, as detailed in the inquiry report, was that she had taken casual leave for one day without approval.
The harassment did not stop at her dismissal, the former junior court assistant alleged in the sworn affidavit. It engulfed her entire family, she claimed. Her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom are head constables in Delhi Police, were suspended on December 28, 2018, for a criminal case involving a colony dispute dating back to 2012 that had been mutually resolved.
The CJI-led bench said the bench is not passing any order on allegations of sexual harassment that were reported by media organisations. The bench has also asked the media to show restrain to protect the independence of judiciary.
CJI Gogoi said the judiciary of this country is under threat. He said, “If judges have to work under these conditions, good people are not going to become judges. Considering the very important cases that are due to be heard next week, they want to destabilise the office of the CJI. Independence of judiciary is under a very serious threat. This is pathetic.”
Informing that the woman who leveled allegations has a “criminal background”, the CJI said, “There are two FIRs against her. How did she enter Supreme Court service when there was criminal case pending? I inquired with Delhi Police.”
CJI Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India (CJI) in October last year. President Ramnath Kovind administered the oath of office to Justice Gogoi.
Justice Gogoi, known for his strict judgements, had taken over from outgoing CJI Dipak Misra, whose 13-month tenure came to a close on October 2. He will serve as the CJI till November next year.
The 63-year-old judge from Assam first started his career when he joined the bar in 1978. Justice Gogoi, son of former Assam chief minister Keshab Chandra Gogoi, predominantly served in Assam after he was appointed as permanent justice in the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001.