SC can’t wash its hands off the issue: ASG

New Delhi :  A fresh controversy has erupted with another woman intern accusing a Supreme Court judge, who has since retired, of sexual harassment.

TV channels CNN-IBN and Times Now have named the judge, who retired more than a year ago, and is currently presiding over a tribunal. He was a sitting judge of the apex court when the alleged incident occurred.

SC can’t wash its hands off the issue: ASG

The woman, who was officially interning with the judge in May 2011, had recently filed a complaint with the Supreme Court along with an affidavit seeking action against him. The court, however, refused to go into the issue citing the December 5, 2013, full-court resolution in the Justice A K Ganguly case making it clear that “representations made against former judges cannot be entertained by the administration of the Supreme Court.”

Court sources said that the intern was further told that “she was at liberty to take appropriate remedy under the law”.

“I joined in May 2011 as an intern with the judge… on one occasion the judge placed his hand on my lower back. I felt quite uncomfortable and disturbed, but I brushed it aside… he asked me if I would be comfortable travelling with him during the internship, and staying in hotel rooms. I did not what to say, and I felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable.”

Reports indicated that the intern was a former student of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. She is said to be considering filing a petition in the apex court challenging the resolution passed by the full court in Ganguly case.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, who had spearheaded a campaign against Ganguly, has now come out in support of the second intern. “I am very clear that action should be taken and an inquiry should be instituted by the Supreme Court against the then sitting judge against whom the allegations have been levelled,” she told PTI.

The ASG was of the view that the administrative decision of the apex court should not come in the way of holding a thorough inquiry into the alleged incident. Jaising said she has information that the resolution of full court is not acceptable to the intern and she was preparing to challenge it.

“What the intern plans to do is to take this matter to the court in its judicial capacity. Any resolution of the court passed in an administrative capacity can be challenged in the judicial capacity.

“The petition will have to be heard in an open court. Judges will have to be designated to hear the case and there is no way court can say we cannot hear it,” she said.

Jaising said that leave alone the issue of jurisdiction, the apex court is duty bound to investigate any complaint made by any woman that she was harassed by a person, who was a sitting judge when she was an official intern with the court.  “There’s no way they can wash their hands of it,” she said.

The intern has said in her complaint to Chief Justice P Sathasivam that she was sexually harassed on three occasions by the sitting judge at his residence. Two of those instances were physical harassment while one was verbal, she has alleged.

“I joined in May 2011 as an intern with the judge… on one occasion the judge placed his hand on my lower back. I felt quite uncomfortable and disturbed, but I brushed it aside… he asked me if I would be comfortable travelling with him during the internship, and staying in hotel rooms. I did not what to say, and I felt extremely awkward and uncomfortable.”

”On May 28, 2011, he put his right arm around me and kissed me on my left shoulder… On May 29, I told him I would not be able to continue my internship,” the young lawyer had said in her complaint.

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