The Delhi High Court Monday refused to entertain a plea that sought to restrain TV channels, newspapers and social media platforms from publishing allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a former SC employee.
A bench of Delhi Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani said that the Supreme Court itself is seized of the matter and has passed various orders, including the initiation of an inquiry. “Once the top court is seized of the matter, interference into the matter by this court is not called for,” the bench said, adding that “even the Supreme Court has already expressed itself”.
The bench said, “In view of the above, we see no reason to make any indulgence in the matter and, accordingly, we refrain from exercising jurisdiction.” It also observed that “judicial propriety and discipline require that this court (Delhi High Court) should not interfere in the matter at all, when the matter is sub-judice before the Supreme Court.”
The court’s direction came while hearing a PIL by Anti-Corruption Council of India, which has sought “immediate restriction on media houses and news channels from further telecasting of the allegations against the CJI.”
On April 20, a former woman employee of the Supreme Court had levelled allegations of sexual harassment by the CJI. Her accusations are being probed by a three-judge panel of the apex court which held its first proceeding last Friday.
The PIL also sought orders to the Union ministries of Law and Justice and Information and Broadcasting, the Delhi government, the Press Council of India, the Delhi Police Commissioner, and the operations head of WhatsApp, Google, YouTube and LinkedIn and the website scroll.in, to restrain the publishing or telecasting the allegations against the CJI, alleging that it is a “direct hit on Indian judicial system”.
The plea, filed through B R Harish Babu, as authorised signatory of the trust, stated that a “false affidavit filed by the dismissed employee of the office of CJI cannot be built as a pillar to put allegations on the Chief Justice of India”.
It has stated that unless the allegations are proven against the CJI in the committee’s inquiry, the media should be restricted from “advertising and besmirching the image of the CJI” and the judiciary.