Harassment allegation: Lawyer deposes before SC panel

Requests committee that confidentiality of her testimony be maintained.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:November 19, 2013 4:12 am

A young lawyer,who had alleged sexual harassment by a retired apex court judge with whom she was interning in December last,deposed Monday before a panel constituted suo motu by the Supreme Court to ascertain the veracity of her claims.

The three-judge panel last week issued a notice to the lawyer for recording her statement. The lawyer reportedly turned up in court around 4.30 pm and recorded her statement for two hours and requested the committee that confidentiality of her testimony be maintained.

“The committee held its meeting today and the law intern appeared before it. She completed recording of statement. The law intern has requested confidentiality. The next date of meeting is November 20,” Ravindra Maithani,Secretary General of the apex court,said.

The lawyer,in a blog on November 6 for the Journal of Indian Law and Society,and later in an interview to website Legally India,had made the allegation against the retired judge. She did not name the judge but said he “retired recently”.

Taking suo motu note,Chief Justice P Sathasivam formed the committee to go into all aspects of the matter and prepare a report.

“We will take action on the basis of the report. The committee starts working from today in the evening and they are going to issue notices to all concerned,” said the CJI.

The CJI pointed out that veracity of allegations required to be ascertained and that records relating to interns or advocates associated with judges and their entry into court or chambers of judges will also be examined.

The Committee comprises Justices R M Lodha,H L Dattu and Ranjana Desai.

Some women lawyers of the Supreme Court have urged Chief Justice P Sathasivam to reconstitute the panel by letting a woman head it and have at least two-thirds of its members women.

“The women lawyers call upon the Chief Justice of India to reconstitute the Committee set up on November 12,2013 in accordance with the Vishakha judgement. We believe sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention,prohibition and redressal) Act,2013 read with the Vishakha Guidelines are also applicable to the Supreme Court of India,” the group of lawyers,including Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh,said.

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