Justice Ganguly should be arrested: Derek

New Delhi, Dec 17 : Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien on Tuesday demanded West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) chief Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly should be arrested over allegations of sexual harassment by a law intern.

"What is the message we are giving by not acting against Justice Ganguly when the three-member Supreme Court Committee has said that his act was improper," said Derek O'Brien.

"There should be action against him. He should be arrested, or should resign or President should sack him," he said.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) also demanded the government to take action against Justice Ganguly.

Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said the government might take action against Justice Ganguly if he does not resign from his post.

"There is a procedure where government can step in on proved misbehaviour. If he does not resign, we will take a position on it," said Sibal.

He was the government is waiting to see how the Supreme Court handles the case.

"Waiting to see when and how the Supreme Court rises to the occasion to deal with Justice Ganguly," tweeted Sibal.

Meanwhile, Justice Ganguly on Monday made it clear that he will not resign from his post.

"I will not resign from WBHRC. I have given my detailed explanation on the incident to the Supreme Court Committee," Justice Ganguly said.

After Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising made public the statement of the law intern, the former Supreme Court judge expressed surprise that the affidavit was made public.

Justice Ganguly told an Indian news agency that the affidavit was supposed to be confidential but he was surprised that it came out in the open.

He told the agency that no one is listening to him and would not comment on the affidavit of the girl.

Stella James, who is a Fellow at Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment, said in her affidavit that the incident took place at a room in hotel Le Meridien on Dec 24, 2012 approximately between 8 pm and 10.30 pm.

"The judge then informed me that the AIFF report had to be submitted the next morning, and asked me to stay at the hotel and work all night. I declined and told him that I had to finish the work quickly, and return to the PG accommodation," James said in her affidavit.

"However, he ignored my repeated protests ... I told the judge that the internet was not working. I asked the judge whether I was at all needed as there was no internet connection, and hence I could not do any web-based research.

"At this point, the judge apologised for spoiling my Christmas Eve, and asked me if it was customary in Christian families to drink wine during Christmas. I mumbled yes. He then took out a bottle of red wine, which he said was compliments of the hotel. He also said that since I had had a long day, I should go into his bedroom and relax while drinking some wine," she said.

"He, however, brought out a bottle of red wine and handed me a glass. Feeling awkward and unsure, I accepted. This kind of interaction with the judge had never taken place in Kolkata during the period that we worked as RAs (research assistants) with the judge for six months."

"The judge kept ignoring my protests and then informed me that it may not be possible to have a separate room arranged for me, and asked me if I would stay in the same room with him to help him finish the report," said James.

"I was shocked and taken aback by this suggestion, and I categorically informed him that it was highly inappropriate for him to make such a request. Sensing my agitation, he then said that he would make arrangements for transport to take me back."

James said Justice Ganguly himself was high on alcohol at that time.

"During this period, the judge had not only quickly consumed few glasses of wine, but had also taken out a bottle of Bacardi white rum and taken a few drinks of rum as well. I had, however, taken barely a few sips of the wine, although the judge was repeatedly asking me to finish my glass so that he could refill it.

"At this time, the judge again tried to persuade me to stay in his room, stating that he would not be able to finish compiling the report on his own, and he would guide me how to compile the same. Again, I declined."

She said Justice Ganguly started his physical advances during dinner which was served around 10 pm.

"During the dinner, the judge put his hand on my back and thanked me for agreeing to help him. I moved away, clearly indicating to the judge that this physical contact was unwelcome and not proper behaviour on his part.

"However, the judge did not remove his hand from my back, and then moved forward to embrace me. I no longer felt safe and was extremely suspicious of his intentions," said James in her affidavit.

"I therefore immediately moved to the single sofa on my left to be out of his physical reach."

"Soon afterwards, I left my meal, returned to the round table and pretended to continue the work, while I anxiously waited for the car. By now I was feeling threatened. At this point, the judge approached me and, standing next to me, he put his hand on my head, and said, 'You are very beautiful'.

"I immediately rose from my seat, but before I had a chance to respond to the statement, he caught hold of my arm, saying, 'You know that I'm attracted to you, don't you? You must be thinking, what, this old man is getting drunk and saying such things. But I really like you, I love you'. When I tried to move away, he kissed my arm and repeated that he loved me," she said.

James said she left the hotel at around 10.30 pm.

"After the car arrived, I returned in it to the PG where I was staying. After reaching the PG, I received a call from the judge asking if I had reached. I curtly said yes and disconnected the call immediately," she said.

James said Justice Ganguly apologized to her the next morning.

"The next morning, I sent an SMS to the judge stating that given the incidents of the previous night, I felt that I could no longer continue to work under him ... The judge also sent me a text message apologising for the previous night, and requested that I converse with him for five minutes," she said.

--IBNS (Posted on 17-12-2013)

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