An administrative judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Gwalior bench, accused of sexual harassment by an additional district judge, Monday called the allegations against him shocking and said he was ready to face a probe by the CBI or any other agency. “I am even ready to face death penalty if any allegations against me are proved. During my whole tenure, I have never contacted any subordinate women officers. It can be verified from any source,” the judge said.
In a complaint to Chief Justice of India R M Lodha and several Supreme Court judges, the woman alleged the judge had sent a message through the district registrar asking her to dance on an item number at his residence, and later remarked that he “missed the opportunity of viewing a sexy and beautiful figure dancing on the floor and that he is desperate to see the same”.
The complainant, who was heading the district Vishaka Committee against sexual harassment at the workplace, alleged she was forced to resign from judicial service due to the judge’s “advances and malicious aspirations”.
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While the complainant did not to speak to the media, her husband told The Indian Express, “Except a few missing bits, most of what she had said in her complaint has appeared in the press. We have full faith in the system, which started working after the complaint. We will wait for one more day and then decide the future course of action.”
The complainant resigned on July 15 after she was transferred from Gwalior, where she had joined in 2011, to Sidhi, hundreds of kilometres away. Saying that her child’s Class XII studies would get affected by the transfer in the middle of the academic session, the judge quit. While interacting with local media in Gwalior after her resignation, she did not make any mention of sexual harassment.
In her complaint to the CJI, she alleged her transfer was unjust and that her annual confidence report rated her work as outstanding. In her early 40s, the complainant alleged she was transferred because she refused to visit the judge’s residence alone.
The judge, meanwhile, said the allegations were false and were levelled against him after the woman judge’s resignation. In a letter to the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, he claimed she had called him on June 14 when he was on vacation in Delhi and told him that district registrar Naveen Sharma was harassing her. He said that when he returned, she visited him at his residence along with her husband and reiterated her grievance against Sharma.
The High Court judge said that except this particular phone call and the home visit, no calls or text messages were exchanged between the two. “It can be verified from my call details or from any other method as Your Lordship may think proper,” he said in the one-and-a-half page letter.
He said she was transferred to Sidhi on administrative grounds, but he was not aware of the reason. He said that after the transfer, she called him again and requested that it be cancelled, but he told her it was not possible for him because he was not on the committee that decides transfers.
“I do not know under what circumstances and under what influence she has made such type of allegations,” he said and added that if he was found guilty by the probe agency, he would be ready to face the death penalty without trial. He also told The Indian Express that he would continue to perform his duties and would go on leave immediately if advised by the chief justice.