The Hush Post|12:45 pm| 3-min-read
A former employee of the Supreme Court has made serious allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi. The allegations have been made in an affidavit that she sent to all judges on the court on April 19, 2019.
The affidavit provides an account of the apparent victimisation she, her husband and their family has undergone over the past few months.
The woman had served as a junior court assistant in Justice Gogoi’s court for two years, from October, 2016 to October, 2018.
The alleged incident of harassment reportedly happened on October 11, 2018. The woman has since been dismissed from service.
However, the media seems divided in the way the matter is being reported. While, a section of the media, like The Wire has said that there are allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI Rajan Gogoi, the so-called mainstream has tweaked the news quoting CJI that the independence of Judiciary is under threat from unknown quarters. The India Today has headlined the story quoting CJI that Judiciary is under very serious threat and asks media for self-restraint.
According to The Wire, her affidavit mentions that first her husband and one of her brothers-in-law – both employed with the Delhi Police – were suspended on allegedly frivolous grounds.
Then, she was arrested in a case of bribery – almost three months after her dismissal from the Supreme Court. The woman is currently out on bail. She claims that the case is fabricated. The bribery case was recently shifted to the Crime Branch, which has now moved the Patiala House court to cancel her bail.
In her affidavit, a copy of which is with The Wire, the 35-year-old woman listed her detailed occupational history.
Here is a portion from her description in her affidavit:
“Though I usually wear a uniform of black and white clothing, on that day since it was the first day of Navratri, I had worn an orange kurta and dupatta. The CJI referring to my clothes, told me, “You are looking pretty good today.” The CJI asked me to come and stand next to him, he got up from his chair. The CJI then asked me, “What can you do for me?”, I kept repeating that I was very grateful and that everybody in my family was very happy. The CJI then slid his hand from the back of my head, along my back to my hipline, till my lower back. I immediately froze and my body stiffened. I think the CJI sensed this, and so he immediately pulled both my cheeks, like one would do to a child. He told me that he is like this with his daughter too.”
She has given an account of what happened the next day on October 11 as follows:
“He told me that “If you put on some weight you will look good…”. The CJI once again asked me, “So, what can you do for me”…Since he was standing I too stood up as I could not continue sitting when the CJI is standing. He took my notepad from my hands and put it aside on the desk, he then took my hands into his and told me that my hands smell nice, he then pinched my cheeks, he then put his arms around my waist from the front, he said, “I want this from you”. When I had stood up I had put my hands behind my back. He hugged me around the waist, and touched me all over my body with his arms and by pressing his body against mine, and did not let go. He told me “hold me”, he did not let go of me despite the fact that I froze and tried to get out of his embrace by stiffening and moving my body away. Since he did not stop forcibly hugging me, I was forced to push him away from me with my hands. When I pushed him away, he hit his head against a book shelf/cabinet on my left. My first thought was why would the CJI think he can do something like this to me. I immediately left the room and was in a state of complete shock and was unable to think clearly after this. I sat at my desk.”
CJI Office response
In response to the allegations, the secretary general of the Supreme Court, in a common email sent to reporters , said the allegations by the woman were “completely and absolutely false and scurrilous and are totally denied.”
Meanwhile, CJI-led Bench was constituted to discuss the matter, which did not pass any orders on allegations. The Bench has asked the media to show restrain to protect independence of judiciary.
This is what the CJI has to say
“Independence of judiciary is under serious threat, very hurt with the allegations being levelled. 4 media houses have published stories in great detail. I received communication from them” — Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi
There is a “larger conspiracy” to destabilise the judiciary, he said. There is some bigger force behind the woman who made sexual harassment charges, he added.