Inquiry Panel acted like “Members Of A Club” on sexual harassment charges against CJI: Arun Shourie

The Hush Post|14:00 pm|2-min-read|

On Wednesday, former Union Minister Arun Shourie alleged that the three judges of the In-House Inquiry Committee of the apex court, which gave clean chit to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on the allegations of sexual harassment against him, have done grave “injustice to the complainant, the CJI and the Supreme Court as an institution.

According to him,  all the members of the inquiry panel were acting as the “members of a club.”

While delivering his fourth ‘Nani Palkhivala lecture, the former minister and veteran journalist said, “Because of the infirmities and manifested inequities in the procedure, doubt will always linger. However unjustified, that the three judges were defending him (CJI). This lingering doubt corrodes credibility.

He further added, “Scepticism hardens into suspicion, howsoever unjustified. Why did this happen? It happens, because you have a false sense of institutional loyalty that you have to safeguard this reputation of the institution. That is the old concept of a club, not of an institution, that is always talking about transparency”.
The theme of today’s lecture was ‘What should lawyers and other professionals be doing today?” It was organised on the occasion of well known jurist’s birthday.

Shourie said the three judges of the Committee have done grave “injustice to the complainant, CJI and the Supreme Court as an institution”. The apex court has acted like the CBI by refusing to give the complainant a copy of the report of the In-House Inquiry Committee.

“The CBI don’t give you the statement you have recorded in the case. Denying the right to a person to see even what he or she has said, which is a CBI practice has now become a Supreme Court practice,” he said.

In this case, the CJI did not discharge his judicial functions, he claimed.

Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Kurien Jospeh, who along with Justice (retd) J Chelameswar and M B Lokur  present CJI had held the presser allegedly against functioning of the apex court when Justice Dipak Misra was the CJI, also spoke at the occasion.

Justice Joseph said the January 12, 2018 presser was not against a person but rather against the tendency with which the judiciary was shaken.

He further said, “Media is not doing what it should be doing and what it can do. Information has no role in the media today. Everyone wants to know the way information has been put. There is no independent media today,” he said.

While talking about the credibility of the judicial system, Shourie said that at present, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General have become the facilitators and partners of evil.

He further said that because of the mentality of the present day lawyers to serve whoever comes first, “the best crooks get the best lawyers”.

“Judicial world has become a club. it is no longer an institution,” he said.

Shourie said the least the court could do in cases of sexual allegations against someone like the CJI was to set and make public the procedure that one should follow.

“The Supreme Court lays down guidelines in a judgement (Vishakha guidelines) but it will not apply to it. Elementary things like video and audio recording of the procedure, copy to be given to lawyers, the accused and the complainant, must be worked out. There should be a standing committee of three judges. So that there is no apprehension that some special judges are being selected for the special case,” he said.

He further said that the appointment procedures have been under a great discussion and the “executive try to use that to usurp further power”.

Shourie said that the judgements must increase faith in people’s mind for the judiciary.

“If we do not believe the judgements, just imagine what corrosion has taken place… I don’t think people regard yesterday’s VVPAT ruling as something that was on merits,” he said.

On Tuesday, the apex court had rejected the VVPAT review plea of 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. The court refused to modify its April 8 order which directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs to five polling booths per assembly segment in the Lok Sabha elections.




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