Women activists urge CJI to act against Madhya Pradesh judge
A group of women activists and lawyers Monday urged Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to initiate an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment against a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge by a subordinate woman judge and withdraw all work from him.
The women activists which included well-known lawyers Indira Jaisinh and Viranda Grover, Uma Chakravarti and Sunita Dhar urged the Chief Justice to reject the resignation of the woman, who was the additional district and sessions judge at Gwalior, and allocate her work immediately.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said: "With regard to allegations of sexual harassment of additional district and sessions judge, Gwalior, a through e-mail has been received in the registry, which is being dealt with appropriately."
The woman judge in her resignation letter has said "I am not resigning voluntarily. It is under duress."
Jaisinh, a former additional solicitor general of India, said: "We appeal the Chief Justice of India to initiate a full-fledged inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment against him (the judge) and he has to be suspended from all work."
The "resignation of the woman judge should not be accepted and she be allotted full work", she said.
Simultaneously, the women activists have urged parliamentarians to initiate impeachment proceedings against the high court judge.
"I ask parliamentarians to rise above the party lines and do their duty," urged Jaisinh.
Seeking an immediate inquiry by the Chief Justice, she said that at present there was no mechanism to hear complaint of sexual harassment against a sitting judge of the high court or that of Supreme Court.
"It is the responsibility of the Chief Justice of India to inquire into the matter and then it should be reported to police," Jaisinh said.
"The ball is in the court of judiciary," she added.
"There is a culpability", she said when it was noted that the Madhya Pradesh High Court chief justice refused to grant the woman judge an appointment when she wanted to bring the matter to his knowledge.
The woman judge in her letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chief Justice Lodha has given the details of the way she was harassed by the high courtjudge who was also the administrative incharge of Gwalior where she was posted as an additional judge.
The woman judge has alleged that she was posted to a remote area after she declined the judge's request to dance on an item song at a 'ladies' sangeet' function at his home.
Speaking to media persons, Jaisinh said that in one instance, the high court judge told the woman judge he found her "so beautiful that he was unable to blink his eyes".
She claimed that the woman judge faced surveillance even in the room where she presided over the court.
The woman judge, who stood second in the Madhya Pradesh's judicial services exam had an excellent service record with a good annual confidential report, she added.
However, Jaisinh said that woman judge has also said that "not everybody in judiciary indulges in sexual harassment. There are rogues. The problem is people don't speak. We have to break this silence".
(Posted on 05-08-2014)