Chief Justice appoints panel to probe sexual harassment charge against ex-SC judge

New Delhi, Nov.12 : Responding to a law graduate's complaint of being sexually harassed by a former judge of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice P.Sathasivam on Tuesday constituted a three-judge committee to probe the matter.

Justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and Ranjana P Desai will start their inquiry into the alleged incident from this evening, Chief Justice Sathasivam revealed in an open court today, after Attorney General G E Vahanvati moved a petition on the matter in response to a newspaper report that highlighted the incident.

"The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare the report. Sexual harassment incidents can never be tolerated and I have assured the AG that the new committee of judges will go to the bottom of charges and submit a report as soon as possible,and we cannot take it lightly," Chief Justice Sathasivam said.

"Action will be taken on the basis of the report submitted by the inquiry committee," he added.

"As the head of the institution, I am also concerned about the allegation and anxious whether the statement is true or not," he said.

Chief Justice Sathasivam moved on the matter days after a young lawyer had alleged that she was sexually harassed last December by a Supreme Court judge she was interning with, and who "retired recently".

The girl, who graduated from Kolkata-based National University of Juridical Sciences this year, said the judge, who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at a time when Delhi had erupted against the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya.

She made the sensational charge first in blog she wrote on November 6 for 'Journal of Indian Law and Society', and repeated it on Monday in an interview to the website 'Legally India'.

The NUJS graduate said she had "cowardly" decided not to wage legal battle against her alleged tormentor, but decided to speak out "as I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation".

Currently a fellow with 'Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment', the young woman said she kept mum because of the high position the judge enjoyed and that she was too stunned and surprised at the time to even react with anger.

--ANI (Posted on 12-11-2013)

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