Panel On Claims Against Chief Justice “Deliberates On Its Own”: Top Court

The Supreme Court Sunday termed as “wholly incorrect” a media report that said that justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud met Justice SA Bobde, who is heading the in-house committee inquiring into sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

A statement issued by the office of the Supreme Court”s secretary general said it is “most unfortunate” that a leading newspaper chose to state that the two judges met Justice Bobde on Friday evening.

The statement said the in-house committee, which is deliberating on the issue concerning the CJI, deliberates on its own without any input from any other judge of the top court.

A report in a leading newspaper Sunday stated that justices Nariman and Chandrachud had met Justice Bobde and had expressed their view that the three-member committee should not go ahead with the proceeding ex parte.

The former woman employee of the top court, who levelled the sexual harassment allegations, had opted herself out of the inquiry raising several grievances, including denial of permission to have her lawyer during proceedings.

A source had earlier said the woman opted not to participate in the proceedings despite being told about consequence that the committee can go ahead with its task ex-parte. She had appeared before the panel for three days.

Justice Bobde on April 23 had told PTI: “This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding.”

He had clarified that there is no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on “what comes out of the inquiry” which will be “confidential”.

The newspaper has stated that justices Nariman and Chandrachud had suggested appointment of an advocate as an amicus curie for assisting the in-house committee.

Besides Justice Bobde, other members in the committee are two women judges of the top court — justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

An official source Sunday that the in-house panel deliberates on its own and if any judge, as reported, makes any suggestion, it amounts to interference in proceedings of the committee.

The statement said, “It is most unfortunate that a leading newspaper has chosen to state that justices RF Nariman and DY Chandrachud together met Justice SA Bobde on Friday evening, i.e. on May 3, 2019. This is wholly incorrect. The in-house committee which is deliberating on the issue concerning the CJI, deliberates on its own without any input of any other judge of this court.”

Chief Justice Gogoi had Wednesday appeared before an in-house inquiry committee looking into allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former woman employee of the Supreme Court.

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