Two lawyers’ bodies of the Supreme Court on Monday disapproved of the manner in which Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dealt with the sexual harassment allegations against him, calling it “procedural impropriety” and “violation” of procedures.
As the apex court reassembled after the weekend recess in the backdrop of the stunning allegations by a former court staffer, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) urged the Full Court to take all such necessary steps as may be required in law to deal with the charges.
The allegations cropped up against Justice Gogoi on Saturday prompting him to convene an urgent extraordinary hearing by a three-member bench headed by him during which he asserted that the charges against him were “unbelievable”.
The allegations by the woman, who had worked at Justice Gogoi’s home office in Delhi, dates back to October last year, days after he was appointed the CJI.
After an emergent meeting of its executive committee, the SCBA said in a statement that without prejudice to any enquiry which may be initiated the full court should collate all the materials and facts with regard to the allegations from electronic, print, social media and other available sources for consideration at its next meeting.
“The executive committee has resolved that procedure adopted for conducting the court proceedings on April 20 in the matter of allegations made by ex-employee of the Supreme Court against the Chief Justice of India is in violation of procedure established by law as well as principles of natural justice,” SCBA Secretary Vikrant Yadav said.
In a resolution, the SCAORA, the top court lawyers’ body, said in a resolution that the allegations against the CJI have to be dealt with as per the established procedure of law and law must be applied in each and every case uniformly.
The Supreme Court Employees Welfare Association on its part came out in support of Justice Gogoi, claiming that the allegations were “false and fabricated”.
The association, in a resolution, said it strongly condemned the “false, fabricated and baseless allegations” against the CJI which is aimed at maligning the institution of judiciary.
“The Supreme Court Employees Welfare Association on behalf of all the employees strongly condemns the false, fabricated and baseless allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi,” it said.
The SCAORA, which is a body of lawyers comprising advocates empowered by the apex court to file pleadings on behalf of parties in the top court, sought immediate appointment of a committee headed by full court of the apex court to impartially investigate and inquire into the allegations and give an independent finding.
“Supreme Court Advocates On Record Association expresses its deep reservation against procedural impropriety shown by Justice Ranjan Gogoi in the suo motu proceedings held on April 20 in the issue relating to allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Ranjan Gogoi, by an ex-Supreme Court employee,” the SCAORA resolution said.
“It is therefore resolved that the SCAORA strongly disapproves the manner in which the complaint was dealt with and seeks enquiry and action in the above matter…” it added.
Justice Gogoi said during the Saturday hearing that the allegations were part of a conspiracy by some “bigger force” to “deactivate” the CJI’s office.
The CJI also said he would not stoop too low even to deny them.
In her affidavit, copies of which were sent to the residences of 22 apex court judges, the woman described two incidents of alleged sexual harassment by Justice Gogoi.
The woman alleged she was removed from service after she rebuffed his “sexual advances”. She claimed that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom were head constables, were suspended for a 2012 criminal case that had been mutually resolved.
All the 15 benches of the top court, meanwhile, commenced judicial proceedings at 10:45 am, 15 minutes behind the scheduled time, triggering speculation among lawyers about some urgent meetings of the judges.