Attorney General had asked for external members on CJI  Ranjan Gogoi probe panel

NEW DELHI: A miffed Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal (88) may resign, having fallen out with the Modi Govt on handling of the sexual harass­ment charge levelled against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. A day before the Supreme Court set up an in-house panel to inquire into the sexual harassment allegations, Venugopal had written to five senior most judges asking for external members — retired judges — on the panel. The Chief Justice, who has since been cleared of the allegations by a panel of judges, was among the five judges he wrote to.

The law officer also wrote a second letter the next day to clarify it was his personal view and not the government’s. Now, he is upset with the govt for forcing him to write the second letter to the judges. Venugopal felt the in-house panel may not pass legal scrutiny without any external member, as provided in the law on the sexual harassment cases and so he wanted this anomaly addressed.

He was present at the disputed special mention of the case by solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who had defended the CJI on behalf of the govt when the charge first surfaced. As the highest law officer of govt, Venugopal did not like Mehta’s handling of the issue. Mehta, a PM aide since Gujarat riot cas­es, tried to project the govt as a saviour of the CJI. Sources said the AG may soon step down to protect his reputation.

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