New Delhi, Dec 6 IBNS | 2 years ago

Putting up more pressure on Justice A K Ganguly, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Friday said the Supreme Court should not follow an 'escapist route' on the sexual harassment connected to him and must monitor a probe in the case.

"The standard that the Supreme Court follows for every holder of High office and must apply even more sternly to a sitting or former judge of the court. Nobody should harass a lady. Certainly not holders of high Judicial offices . If they act in a conduct unbecoming of the office, that they hold, the dignity of the institution and the popular faith in the judgments of the Judicial institutions gets eroded. It is now incumbent on the Supreme Court of India to ensure that the law must take its own course,"Jaitley said in a Facebook post on Friday.

"If it has found a former Judge of the Supreme Court prima facie committed an offence, it cannot follow an escapist route and hold that on the administrative side it has no jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is fully empowered on the Judicial side to ensure that the law takes its own course. It cannot escape from its Judicial responsibility," the senior BJP leader said.

"It must place the case before a bench of the court on the Judicial side which must monitor the investigations in order to ensure Justice and fairness. Justice Ganguly must face the investigations as an ordinary citizen stepping down from the office he holds," Jaitley said.

The retired Supreme Court judge and present West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairperson, who has been accused of allegedly sexually harassing a law intern, on Friday said he has gone through a lot and needs privacy.

"Don't disturb me. I have gone through a lot. I need my privacy," Justice Ganguly told reporters when asked to comment on the growing demand for his resignation.

Union Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal earlier said he feels the Supreme Court is washing its hands off Justice AK Ganguly sexual harassment case.

"I am worried and disappointed. I would have thought when it comes to protecting the dignity of a woman, whose dignity has been allegedly violated, Supreme Court will proactively deal with the matter judicially," Sibal told CNN-IBN.

"Having set up a committee and having found that the judge in question made sexual overtures, unwelcome overtures to the woman, then they ought to have ought to have taken it up on judicial side and dealt with it as they would have dealt with any ordinary person," he said.

"I am not here to pass judgements like others. At the moment Supreme Court seems to be washing its hands off it on the ground that he is no longer a judge," Sibal told the news channel.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she has written to President Pranab Mukherjee demanding strong action against retired Supreme Court judge Justice AK Ganguly, who has been accused of allegedly sexually harassing a law intern.

"Today I have already addressed a letter to the Hon'ble President of India for taking appropriate action urgently for the grave misconduct committed by Retd Justice A K Ganguly," Banerjee posted on her Facebook page on Thursday.

The Delhi Police on Friday said they have written to the law intern seeking an appointment with her to speak on the issue.

The Supreme Court panel probing the sexual harassment case against retired Supreme Court judge and present West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairperson AK Ganguly on Thursday said that the judge has been indicted in the crime and prima facie discloses that it was an "act of unwelcome behaviour" and "conduct of sexual nature" on his part.

The apex court declared its statement after a panel set up by it to probe the sexual allegation of the law intern against Gangulysubmitted its report.

"We have carefully scrutinized the statement (written as well as oral) of Ms. Stella James, the affidavits of her three witnesses and the statement of Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly. It appears to the Committee that in the evening on 24.12.2012, Ms. Stella James had visited hotel Le Meridien where Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly was staying to assist him in his work. This fact is not denied by Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K. Ganguly in his statement," the apex court said in a statement.

"Further the Committee is of the considered view that the statement of Ms. Stella James, both written and oral, prima facie discloses an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature) by Mr. Justice (Retd.) A.K.Ganguly with her in the room in hotel Le Meridien on 24.12.2012 approximately between8.00 P.M. and 10.30 P.M,"the statement said.

The Supreme Court, however, said that no further follow up action is required by it since Ganguly had demitted office on the date of the incident — Dec 24 last year.

"Considering the fact that the said intern was not an intern on the roll of the Supreme Court and that the concerned Judge had already demitted office on account of superannuation on the date of the incident, no further follow up action is required by this Court," the apex court noted.

The three member judges' panel of the Supreme Court investigated the charges of the woman and submitted their report to the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

The panel was set up by the Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam.

Justice Dattu, Justice Desai and Justice Lodha were on the panel.

Stella James, who is a Fellow at Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment, blogged: "In Delhi at that time (during protests against the brutal Dec 16 gangrape), interning during the winter vacations of my final year in University, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highly reputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester.

"For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather."

"I won't go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that long after I'd left the room, the memory remained, in fact, still remains, with me," she wrote in her blog for Journal of Indian Law and Society.

She said the incident affected her deeply.

"As a conditioned member of the society, I had quickly 'gotten over' the incident. But was that what worried me: that I had accepted what was essentially an 'unacceptable' situation," said Stella.

"While the incident affected me deeply, I felt little anger and almost no rancour towards the man; instead I was shocked and hurt that someone I respected so much would do something like this. My strongest reaction really, was overwhelming sadness," she said.

(Posted on 06-12-2013)