The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Madhya Pradesh High Court to explore the possibility of re-appointing a former woman District Judge who had quit after levelling sexual harassment allegations against a judge of the HC.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde asked Senior Advocate Ravindra Srivastava, who appeared for the HC, to discuss with the former judge’s counsel Senior Advocate Indira Jaising to see if the differences over re-employing can be sorted out.
The court gave them four weeks to hold deliberations.
Hearing the matter through video conferencing, the CJI asked Srivastava, “Why not make a new appointment. If done so, we will ask Jaising to accept new condition”.
But Srivastava told the bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna, that the former Judge wanted reinstatement with her seniority protected, which was not acceptable to the Full Court of the HC as she had resigned and her resignation had been accepted.
“We are not on uustice or injustice. Here is an officer who has worked…You are not dealing with a delinquent person. She is a judge,” remarked the CJI.
Srivastava added, “She is asking for a reinstatement in MP HC…She is insisting that continuity of service should be maintained.”
Jaising said she was 48 and that at that age “you cannot expect anyone to begin at the bottom of the ladder”. She added that it’s not a question of seniority but “of her aspiration” and that she can be sent on deputation after rejoining.
“That’s a call MP HC has to take. We will strongly recommend your case. First you negotiate among yourselves and come and tell us. Then we will decide,” the CJI told the parties, adding, “if nothing happens, we will hear”.
Jaising earlier told the court that the lady judge had to quit in 2014 after she was transferred to Sidhi and that this happened after she had levelled the harassment charges. She had quit as her daughter was having board exams and she could not take up the assignment, Jaising added.
In April 2015, the then Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari had set up a committee comprising Supreme Court Judge Justice R Banumathi, Justice Manjula Chellur and Senior Advocate K K Venugopal under the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968 to probe the charges.
In its report, the panel cleared the judge of the allegations. However, it found her transfer to Sidhi unjustified and recommended that she be reinstated in service if she wished to join back.
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