- NL Sena
The complainant in the sexual harassment case against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has written to the in-house committee constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate the complaint. The complainant asked for a copy of the report, after the Secretary General of the Supreme Court issued a press release yesterday saying the committee had found “no substance in the allegations”. The press release had said the report would not be made public.
Addressing the letter to the committee’s members, Justices SA Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, the complainant said she was “shocked” at the committee’s “adverse finding” even though she had been compelled to withdraw from the committee as it “did not observe even the most basic principles of justice”. She also said she had a right to the report and found it “rather strange that the complainant in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance and that my complaint has been held by the committee to be this without giving me any reasons for the same”.
Read the letter in full.
7th May 2019
The Hon’ble Lordships
Hon’ble Justice S.A. Bobde, Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra
Subject: Request for copy of your report mentioned in Press Release dated 5th May 2019
On 6th May 2019 a Press Release issued by Secretary General of the Supreme Court stated,
“The in-House Committee has submitted its Report dated 5.5.2019, in accordance with the in-House Procedure, to the next senior Judge competent to receive the Report and also sent a copy to the Judge concerned, namely, the Chief Justice of India.
The In-House Committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the Complaint dated 19.4.2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India. Please take note that in case of Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India & Anr. (2003) 5 SCC 494, it has been held that the Report of a Committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public.
Supreme Court of India”
I am shocked that despite my detailed affidavit, ample corroborative evidence and clear, consistent statement before the Committee reiterating my experience of sexual harassment and consequent victimisation the Committee has found “no substance” in my complaint and affidavit. I am shocked that Committee has come to an adverse finding against me despite the fact that I was compelled to withdraw from the Committee since the committee did not observe even the most basic principles of natural justice. From the beginning I have been treated as an outsider, I have not been informed of the procedure, I have not been informed of my basic rights and obligations with regard to the inquiry proceedings. From the beginning there has been a lack of transparency in the functioning of the Committee and great prejudice is being caused to me repeatedly.
While in the first notice received from the committee and in the first hearing , despite repeatedly asking the Committee, I was not given any clarity on whether the present proceedings are in-house proceedings or not. However, the in-house proceeding rules are now being used to deny me and the public a right to the report. The Secretary Generals press note states that a copy of the report will not be made public because of the Supreme Court judgement in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India & Anr. (2003) 5 SCC 494. It appears from the press release that even I, the complainant, will not to be provided with a copy of the report.
I have a right to the report, the reasons for the same as well as copies of the depositions of any witnesses, any other persons or any other evidence considered by the Committee. Besides this, as is being reported by the media, if a copy of the report is being given to the CJI directly or indirectly, I am entitled to a copy thereof in any case. I find it rather strange that the complainant in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance and that my complaint has been held by the committee to be this without giving me any reasons for the same. The Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 in Section 13 provides that both parties have a right to receive a copy of the Report. Not providing a copy to the complainant while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice. It is also respectfully pointed out that the judgement cited was given at a time prior to the Right to Information Act. Even according to the full bench judgment of the Delhi High court in the Assets disclosure case, such a report should be accessible to any citizen under the RTI. The full bench had held that even assets of judges would be accessible under RTI to any citizen.
In these circumstances I request you to kindly provide me with a copy of the report since I have a right to know how, why and on what basis have your Lordships found my complaint to have “no substance”