Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
File photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Madhya Pradesh High Court to reconsider the issue of reappointment of a former woman judicial officer who had resigned following an inquiry into her allegations of sexual harassment against a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said it 'would strongly recommend' the case of the judicial officer to the high court for reconsidering the appointment.

The bench also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna assured senior lawyer Indira Jaising, appearing for the former judicial officer, that it would hear her plea in case the present order of the reconsideration does not yield result.

The apex court, on February 12, had observed that it may consider reappointing the former woman judicial officer and had asked the high court to deliberate on it.

Senior advocate Ravindra Srivastava, appearing for the High Court, said the issue of re-appointment was placed for the third time before the full bench of the High Court in February this year and it was turned down.

"She is seeking to be reinstated in MP with seniority and then transfer. The Full Court had held the acceptance of her resignation in 2014 as final," he said.

"Why is the High Court not open to our suggestion. You (lawyer) please communicate our views," the bench observed and granted four weeks' time to the parties for taking a decision which has to be communicated to it in a month's time.

Earlier, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had told the top court that the former woman judicial officer cannot be reinstated.

The high court judge, against whom sexual harassment complaint was made by her, was later given a clean chit in December 2017 by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel which had probed the allegations. In the hearing conducted on Tuesday through video-link, Jaising said that she was seeking an early hearing on the plea as her client was willing to work and should be accommodated in some other state on the same post and with same seniority.

The counsel for the High Court said that it was the case of voluntary resignation which was accepted in 2014 and besides the job, she also wanted the seniority.

The apex court then suggested Srivastava to consider the case as a fresh appointment. However, the suggestion was opposed by Jaising.

"She was a direct recruit in 2011, I do not remember her age.she aspires to be a HC judge and then become SC judge. How can I ask her to give up her aspirations," Jaising said.

In response to the bench's suggestion that she should be willing to give up seniority if the priority was work, the senior lawyer said, "she is 48, how can she start from bottom".

Earlier, the top court had asked the MP High Court to mull over the possibility of reinstating the former woman judicial officer within four weeks.

The woman had moved the apex court seeking that the administrative order of January 11, 2017, passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissing her application for reinstatement into the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Services, should be set aside.

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