The former Additional District and Sessions Judge in Gwalior, who has filed a sexual harassment complaint against Madhya Pradesh High Court Judge S K Gangele, has claimed that three other judges also abetted the alleged harassment by interfering with her day-to-day sitting in the court.
In her eight-page complaint, which has been sent to Chief Justice of India R M Lodha and some other Supreme Court judges, the alleged victim has claimed that her harassment increased after the two judges were transferred to Gwalior District Court in April 2014, and Gangele used them to torment her. The third judge in question was a district registrar.
The complainant has alleged that “on the instructions” of Gangele, these two judges started inspecting her courts “with an unusual frequency — regularly, hourly, and at times within a span of minutes after starting of the court, even before two minutes of lunch time, one minute after lunch time, five minutes before rising of the court.”
The woman has claimed that the judges could not find any fault with her and in fact, she extended her court timings to clear the backlog. She has alleged that these judges’ intentions became clear when she met one of them with a request for a full-time bungalow office peon. She claimed that the judge told her he could not help her, and she should see Gangele if she wanted anything.
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“Thus, it became apparent that the reason for all this unnecessary harassment being inflicted by my own senior on me was to somehow break my resolve, and make me succumb,” said the woman, adding that she still continued to do her work with sincerity and decided not to cave in to Gangele’s “evil demand”.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Indian Express in Bhopal, Gangele said he was ready to face any probe. “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,’’ he said.
In her complaint, the alleged victim has claimed that she and her husband met a sitting judge of the HC’s Jabalpur bench, who assured them that he would speak to Gangele.
The complainant, who resigned on July 15 after she was transferred to Sidhi, blamed her transfer on these three judges, claiming that they made a “frivolous, baseless and malicious” reporting to the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
After her plea for an extension of eight months was rejected by the Registrar General, she claimed she had no alternative but to go to Gangele since he was in charge of the administration. Gangele, she alleged, told her that she was being transferred “for not fulfilling his aspirations and for not visiting his bungalow alone even once.”
She claimed the Jabalpur bench judge advised her to file another representation for reconsideration of transfer to some other district. She was also advised to seek an appointment with the HC Chief Justice. Her second representation was rejected, and the Chief Justice’s office declined her an appointment, she alleged.
“Only because the perpetrator is so powerful as an administrative judge of a bench, he can cast all evil upon me… I do not even get a hearing. Imagine if a judge, who is herself part of the Vishakha Committee, is not getting justice, how failed this system must be,” she said in her complaint. The woman has demanded appropriate action after fact-finding and a mechanism for redressal of such grievances for subordinate judicial officers.
The Supreme Court registry, in its official response, said, “With regard to allegations of sexual harassment of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Gwalior, a thorough e-mail has been received in the registry which is being dealt with appropriately.”
Meanwhile, a PIL seeking a judicial inquiry against the judge has been filed. The plea demands that Gangele should be suspended till the probe is completed.