A day after the Supreme Court In-House Inquiry Committee gave a clean chit to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi saying it had “found no substance” in her allegations of sexual harassment against him, the former woman employee of the court wrote to the committee Tuesday, seeking a copy of the report.
Citing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, she underlined that “both parties have a right to receive the report”.
On Monday, the office of the Supreme Court Secretary General, in a notice, said that the In-House Committee had submitted its report to the “next senior Judge competent to receive the report” and that it had also “sent a copy to the judge concerned, namely, the Chief Justice of India”. The notice also stated that as part of the in-house procedure, the report “is not liable to be made public”.
The complainant, in her letter to the committee comprising Justices S A Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, said that “if a copy of the report is being given to the CJI directly or indirectly, I am entitled to a copy thereof in any case”.
“While in the first notice received from the committee and in the first hearing, despite repeatedly asking the Committee, I was not given any clarity on whether the present proceedings are in-house proceedings or not. However, the in-house proceeding rules are now being used to deny me and the public a right to the report. The Secretary General’s press note states that a copy of the report will not be made public because of the Supreme Court judgment in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India & Anr. It appears from the press release that even I, the complainant, will not to be provided with a copy of the report,” she said.
The woman said she has the “right to the report, the reasons for the same as well as copies of the depositions of any witnesses, any other person or any other evidence considered by the Committee”.
“I find it rather strange that the complainant in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance and that my complaint has been held by the committee to be this without giving me any reasons for the same,” she said.
Citing the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, the woman said that Section 13 provides that both parties have a right to receive a copy of the report.
“Not providing a copy to the complainant while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice. It is also respectfully pointed out that the judgment cited was given at a time prior to the Right to Information Act. Even according to the full bench judgment of the Delhi High Court in the assets disclosure case, such a report should be accessible to any citizen under the RTI. The full bench had held that even assets of judges would be accessible under RTI to any citizen,” she said.
Soon after the Secretary General’s office announced the clean chit to the CJI, the woman, in a statement, said she had only been provided a copy of her statements: “On 4th May 2019, at about 8 pm, I received a hard copy of my statements recorded before the In-House Committee on 26th, 29th and 30th April, 2019. On 6th May 2019, at around 10.30 am, I submitted Corrections of some inaccuracies in my recorded statements, to the concerned Registrar at the Supreme Court. I will consult my lawyer and decide on the next steps.”