Hold credible inquiry into sexual harassment complaint against CJI: Civil rights leaders

Thirty civil rights leaders have expressed “extremely concern” following the complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation made by a woman employee of the Supreme Court against the Chief Justice of India. “The charges are prima facie serious enough to warrant an independent inquiry by a high level independent committee”, they have said in a statement.
Those who have signed the statement include Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Bezwada Wilson, Yogendra Yadav, Harsh Mander, Syeda Hameed, P Sainath, Anjali Bhardwaj, Aakar Patel, Shabnam Hashmi, Amitabh Behar, Maj Gen SG Vombatkere, Kavita Srivastava, and Meera Sanghamitra.
The statement says, “The complaint has alleged arbitrary actions taken against the complainant, resulting in unprecedented victimisation that she and her family have been put through and continue to suffer after she rejected the alleged sexual advances, including the unjust termination of the services of the complainant, the suspension from service of her husband and two brothers-in-law, and her arrest on an apparently motivated FIR.”
Objecting the Chief Justice constituting “a special bench headed by himself to hear this issue on the judicial side, rather than constituting a credible and independent inquiry committee”, the statement says, this “goes against all just and settled principles of law.”
It adds, “In the hearing, one-sided allegations were made by the Chief Justice and senior-most law officers of the government. This is unbecoming of a judicial proceeding, especially one where the complainant in a sexual harassment case is absent and is permitted to be openly vilified in court. These actions augur a dark day in the history of the Supreme Court and have, undoubtedly, cast a shadow on the credibility of the Chief Justice and the judiciary.
“We, therefore, call upon all the judges of the Supreme Court to ensure that an independent and credible inquiry committee comprising senior retired judges and eminent members of civil society, headed by a woman, is immediately set up to inquire into this complaint”, the statement insists. Meanwhile, the complainant should be “granted protection, so that her safety and security is ensured.”

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