Kolkata : With pressure mounting by the day and unable to cope with the incessant media scrutiny, the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Askok Gan-guly, under a cloud on account of charges of sexual harassment, finally resigned on Monday.
Ganguly called on state Governor MK Narayanan at the Raj Bhavan in the evening and after a 45-minute meeting tendered his resignation as the human rights body chief.
He refused to meet the media that had been trailing him ever since he left the WBHRC office; the media finally cornered him at Raj Bhavan and fired a volley of questions as he was leaving. The reply from Ganguly was a cryptic ‘no comment.’
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court rejected a petition arguing that the former judge was framed by detractors, and dismissed a second plea questioning its decision to appoint the panel of judges to investigate the allegations. Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam said, “We don’t need to explain to everyone who appears before us why did we appoint the committee.”
The former Supreme Court judge was last month indicted by a three-member panel of apex court judges, which looked into the allegations of the intern.
The intern had alleged sexual harassment by Ganguly on the night of December 24, 2012, at Le Meridien Hotel when the judge had gone to advise the All India Football Federation on action against Mohun Bagan club. After the intern blogged her charges against Ganguly, there was an uproar and many political parties, including the ruling Trinamool Congress, here demanded his resignation.
However many legal experts, including former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, stood by Ganguly and asked him not to step down till the charges were proved.
Ganguly too, after the intern’s affidavit was made public, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, P. Sathasivam, questioned the procedures followed by the panel of judges. He also alleged that he felt “there was a palpable design to malign” him by some “powerful quarters” as he had delivered many judgements against them as a Supreme Court judge.
Last week Ganguly was forced to resign as a visiting faculty of the National University of Juridical Sciences here. The Union cabinet upon a note from the home ministry too decided to send his case for presidential reference.
This is the first time in the country that a state human rights commission and former Supreme Court judge had to resign following a complaint of sexual harassment.
Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, who made public the harassed woman’s statement to the judges’ panel, said she was happy about Justice Ganguly’s resignation. “It was long overdue, it should have come earlier. This is a case about the treatment of working women, whether it is a judge or any other person, a certain standard of behaviour is expected,” she told NDTV.
On Ganguly’s resignation, Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said, “It’s a good thing that he has resigned. It is a question of too little and too late, but better late than never.”