'Judiciary can't be made scapegoat': CJI refutes sexual harassment charges

Indian chief justice accused of sexual harassment

Indian chief justice accused of sexual harassment

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court Saturday dismissed allegations levelled by a former staffer of the court against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as "wild and baseless, created to attack and erode the independence of the judiciary".

Justice Arun Mishra and Justice S Khanna were the other members of the bench.

Anguished over the allegations, the CJI warned that "the judiciary of this country is under very serious threat". I do not want to stoop so low as to answer these chargers, Justice Gogoi also said. I will not give in. He said that the woman's harassment charges had come up the week before he had to hear "important cases" and that it was an attempt to dissuade him from hearing those matters. Gogoi, while refuting the charges said he believed that there is a "larger conspiracy" to destabilise the judiciary.

The apex court, which held the hearing for around 30 minutes, said independence of judiciary was under "very serious threat" and "unscrupulous allegations" of sexual harassment have been levelled against the Chief Justice of India as some "bigger force" wanted to "deactivate" the office of the CJI.

The Chief Justice claimed that the woman who had made the allegations has a criminal background.

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"What have the allegations of sexual harassment by a dismissed woman employee of the SC got to do with the Government of India?" There are two FIRs against her. Justice Gogoi responded to the charge with anger and anguish in a 15 minute-long intense monologue, asking "if this (the allegations) was just reward for a person who has selflessly served as a judge of the constitutional court and is going to retire with a bank balance of Rs 6.8 lakh and a career-long PF accumulation of Rs 40-odd lakh?"

The former junior assistant has alleged that following the sexual assault, she was terminated from her post, in an affidavit addressed to the Supreme Court.

They can not catch me on money, so they have brought up this. "They have to look for something else", the Chief Justice said. "I have taken this unusual and extraordinary step of sitting in court today because things have gone too far", he said. How did she enter supreme court service when there was criminal case pending?

The CJI-led bench did not pass any orders on allegations and asked media to show restrain to "protect independence of judiciary". The hearing mainly imputed that the allegations were meant to make the judiciary a "scapegoat". In addition to that, her husband and brother-in-law, both then working as head constables in Delhi Police, were suspended from their duties.

"All I would like to say is this, undoubtedly every employees are treated fairly and decently". In a sworn affidavit, the former employee describes two incidents of molestation by the CJI, which allegedly took place in October, last year.

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