The former woman employee of the Supreme Court who levelled sexual harassment charges against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi appeared Friday before an in-house committee of three serving judges, constituted to inquire into the allegations. The inquiry which remained inconclusive Friday, will resume on a date fixed by the three judges.
The in-chamber proceedings began three days after a full court of the Supreme Court on the administrative side approved formation of a three-member in-house inquiry committee, comprising Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee, for an inquiry into the matter.
On Thursday, Justice Ramana recused himself after the woman complainant raised concerns over his presence in the panel, saying he is “a close friend of the CJI and like a family friend to him”, and that she “fears” her “affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing”.
Justice Indu Malhotra, who also heads the Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) of the Supreme Court, replaced Justice Ramana. The inquiry, which will resume on a date fixed by the three judges, is in the nature of a departmental inquiry on the administrative side, and not a judicial inquiry. The Secretary General of the Supreme Court, who had been asked to be present with all relevant documents, appeared before the committee Friday afternoon. It is learnt that the lawyer who accompanied the woman complainant was not part of the inquiry proceedings.
On Wednesday, the woman had written a letter to the committee that she wanted to be “assisted by a lawyer and support person of my choice” citing that while she is “capable of presenting facts and evidence”, she “does not have any training or practical experience of law and procedure”.
She also requested that the “entire proceedings be video recorded”. Her letter stated “a copy of the same be given to me so that there can be no dispute about what transpired.” Currently, the Supreme Court rules for “in-house procedure” have no explicit provisions for any inquiry into allegations made against the CJI.