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CJI cites 'criminal record' of woman who has accused him of sexual harassment

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 20, 2019  | 19:40 IST

New Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who held an extraordinary hearing in the Supreme Court on Saturday over allegations of sexual harassment against him, cited "criminal record" of the accuser during the proceedings. The CJI, who along with Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna assembled to hear the matter which was described as of "great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary", said that the woman, a former apex court employee, had a criminal record and two FIRs were lodged against her. In a letter addressed to 22 other apex court judges, the woman had said that she was a junior court assistant in the apex court. She said she had joined the service on May 1, 2014 and her service was terminated on December 21, 2018. During the hearing, Justice Gogoi said when she was employed with the apex court, an FIR was pending against her. "How can she become a Supreme Court staff when an FIR was pending against her?" the CJI said, adding that two criminal cases were also pending against her husband. A third FIR was registered against her following which she was arrested, he said, adding that after getting bail, she threatened the complainant of the third case with dire consequences. He said the woman was in jail for four days because of the criminal cases lodged against her and she was also warned by the police a couple of times to maintain good behaviour. The CJI said that in the third case, the police has moved the lower court seeking cancellation of the bail granted to her and the matter was listed for hearing in the Patiala House district court today itself. Later in the day, a trial court said that it would hear on April 24 the plea filed by police seeking cancellation of the bail granted to the former woman Supreme Court employee in a cheating and criminal intimidation case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Manish Khurana listed the matter for Wednesday as the accused woman was not served with the copy of the police's plea. The police sought cancellation of the bail granted to the woman on March 12, after the complainant claimed that he was being threatened by the former Supreme Court staffer and her associates. An FIR for the alleged offences of cheating, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy was lodged against the woman on March 3, after a complaint was filed by Naveen Kumar, a resident of Jhajjar in Haryana, at the Tilak Marg Police Station here. Kumar has alleged that the former apex court employee had defrauded him of Rs 50,000, which he claimed she took as part of a bribe, promising him a job at the Supreme Court. The apex court took suo motu (on its own) note of reports carried by four news portals on allegations of sexual misconduct levelled by the former apex court woman employee against the CJI. There have been other instances of unsavoury allegations of sexual misconduct against judges. But it is for the first time that such an allegation has led to the unprecedented and unscheduled court hearing by a three-judge special bench, which also comprised the CJI. However, the CJI dissociated himself from the judicial order which contained the names of justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna only. Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that earlier also two such instances of alleged sexual harassment had come to light, one against a former apex court judge and other against a senior advocate, and in these cases the media was asked not to publish anything. Venugopal said the law contemplated that name of either the complainant or the respondent should not be published in such cases but the news portals, which have carried out the allegations, have "brazenly published" it. Prior to this, a panel of apex court judges had indicted its own former judge and the then chairperson of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Justice A K Ganguly. Justice Ganguly was accused of sexually harassing a law intern in December 2012. Similar allegations were levelled against another apex court judge. The Delhi High Court, however, had barred the media from reporting anything related to the case. A woman judicial officer had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against a sitting Madhya Pradesh high court judge. However, the high court judge was given a clean chit in December 2017 by a Rajya Sabha-appointed panel which had probed the allegations. PTI SJK ABA MNL RKS RT

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