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Posted at: Apr 26, 2019, 8:18 PM; last updated: Apr 26, 2019, 8:18 PM (IST)

Allegations against CJI: Dismissed woman employee appears before in-house inquiry panel

Allegations against CJI: Dismissed woman employee appears before in-house inquiry panel
File photo of CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26

A three-member in-house inquiry panel on Friday commenced an unprecedented hearing into allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with the complainant—a dismissed woman employee of the Supreme Court—appearing before it for deposition.

Headed by Justice SA Bobde, the panel includes Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra as its members.

Besides the complainant, the top court’s Secretary-General also appeared before the panel separately with all necessary documents in its first in-chamber sitting, source said.

The woman’s allegations against the CJI were published by four news portals on April 20, creating a storm in judicial circles. The complainant, who had worked at Justice Gogoi’s home office in the National Capital—had sent an affidavit containing the allegations to 22 judges of the top court. She was dismissed from service in December last year.

The proceedings would continue further and next date of the panel would fix the next date of its hearing soon, they said, adding there was no timeframe for the panel to complete the inquiry.

As decided by the panel head Justice Bobde, its proceedings are not judicial in nature and those appearing before it are not allowed to be represented by advocates.

On Friday, the complainant was accompanied by an advocate but not during the proceedings, they said.

On Thursday, Justice Malhotra replaced Justice NV Ramana who opted out of the panel after the complainant expressed reservations that he might not be objective and fair as he was close to CJI Gogoi and regularly visited his residence.

In a letter to the panel, she had also raised questions over the presence of only one woman judge (Justice Banerjee) in the panel, saying it was not in accordance with the Vishaka Guidelines.

Earlier, Justice Ramana opted out of the panel terming the “aspersions” cast on him as “baseless and unfounded”. He said he recused himself only to “avoid any suspicion that this institution will not conduct itself in keeping with the highest standards of judicial propriety and wisdom”.

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