The Supreme Court Secretary General, while announcing the clean chit to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by the three member in-house committee that went into allegations of sexual harassment against him, said: “Please take note that in case of Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India & Anr. (2003) 5 SCC 494, it has been held that the Report of a Committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public.”
Responding promptly, senior advocate Jaising, in a Twitter post with the hashtag #NotInMyName, said: “This is a scandal. Indira Jaising v Supreme Court of India was also a case of sexual harassment by a sitting High Court of Karnataka. It is a pre-RTI case and is bad in law. Demand the disclosure of the findings of the enquiry committee in public interest.”
This is a scandal
Indira Jaising v Supreme Court of India was also a case of sexual harassment by a sitting High Court of Karnataka.
It is a pre RTI case and is bad in law
Demand the disclosure of the findings of the enquiry committee in public interest https://t.co/Saw07mBPhV
— indira jaising (@IJaising) May 6, 2019
The 2003 order being referred to was a Supreme Court judgement passed by the two-judge bench of Justices S Rajendra Babu and G P Mathur. It had rejected a PIL filed by Jaising who had demanded making public the final report of a three-judge committee which had inquired into complaints, allegedly involving three sitting judges of the Karnataka High Court, and given them a clean chit.
In its order, the Supreme Court bench had observed that an in-house inquiry conducted to probe complaints filed against the Chief Justice or judges of the High Court “is for the purpose of his (Chief Justice of India) own information and satisfaction” and a “report made on such inquiry if given publicity will only lead to more harm than good to the institution as Judges would prefer to face inquiry leading to impeachment”.
“It is not appropriate for the petitioner to approach this Court for the relief or direction for release of the Report, for what the Chief Justice of India has done is only to get information from peer Judges of those who are accused and the report made to the Chief Justice of India is wholly confidential,” the bench had said.
Reiterating that the inquiry report is “only for the purpose of satisfaction” of the CJI, the Supreme Court had said that a report on the in-house inquiry is “purely preliminary in nature, ad hoc and not final”.
“If the Chief Justice of India is satisfied that no further action is called for in the matter, the proceeding is closed. If any further action is to be taken as indicated in the In-House procedure itself, the Chief Justice of India may take such further steps as he deems fit,” the bench had held.
The case related to the February 2, 2003 clean chit given by a ‘high level judicial inquiry committee’ comprising the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice C K Thakkar, the then Chief Justice of Kerala High Court Justice J L Gupta and then judge of Orissa High Court Justice A K Patnaik.
The enquiry committee had been set up by then Chief Justice of India G B Pattanaik on the basis of a report submitted by the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court on the alleged involvement of judges in the scandal. And the final report had been submitted to the then CJI V N Khare. Jaising had then moved the Supreme Court with a plea that the report should be made public.
The Supreme Court had also observed that while a “in a democratic framework free flow of information to the citizens is necessary for proper functioning”, the “right to information is not absolute.”
“There are several areas where such information need not be furnished. Even the Freedom of Information Act, 2002, to which also reference has been made by the learned counsel of the petitioner, does not say in absolute terms that information gathered at any level in any manner for any purpose shall be disclosed to the public. The inquiry ordered and the report made to the Chief Justice of India being confidential and discreet is only for the purpose of his information and not for the purpose of disclosure to any other person,” the court had said.
What she says
* I was denied access to lawyer/support person during proceedings
* Not aware if SHO who took me to apologise to CJI’s wife was called
* Committee refused to accept most basic requests for a fair hearing
* I will consult my lawyer on next steps