In a shocking incident, sexual harassment complaint was lodged against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. Though Sexual harassment at the workplace is rampant, spreading unchecked, there have been many instances where they were hard to prove. It becomes even more tougher when it's perpetrated by someone who are superior or a dominant professional figure.
Several judgements have mentioned the importance of safeguarding the foundation of the judiciary. If not, they could badly disturb by criticism. Comments and opinions can diminish the reputation of the courts in the public, thereby losing the credibility. So protection of judicial institution is utmost importance and justice must be delivered.
A 35-year-old woman who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India had accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. She has written a detailed affidavit about the incident to 22 judges of the court about the sexual advances on her at Ranjan Gogoi in his residence office on October 10 and 11, 2018. The woman described after she rebuffed him, she was asked to move out of his residence office, where she had been posted for the past three months since August 2018. Two months later, on December 21, she was dismissed from the work. One of the three grounds for dismissal, was that she jad taken casual leave for one day without approval. She claims that her husband and brother-in-law, both of whom are head constables in Delhi Police, were suspended on December 28, 2018. The reason is said to be a criminal case involving a land dispute which has been solved mutually.
Chief Justice of India holds superior position in the Indian Judiciary. No FIR can be registered against serving or retired judges of the high courts or the Supreme Court. This has been laid down by a five-judge constitution bench in 1991 and endorsed by another five-judge bench in 2017. The 2017 judgment said this measure was meant to ensure the independence of the judiciary in the light of the apprehension that the executive is likely to misuse the power to prosecute the judges. It should be noted that the 2017 judgment dismissed two petitions - from an NGO, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, and advocate Kamini Jaiswal - that had sought a special investigation team to probe bribery allegations against a retired Orissa High Court judge, Justice I.M. Quddusi. Besides, The 1991 Veeraswami judgment had also ruled that allegations against members of the higher judiciary can only be probed with prior permission from the Chief Justice of India. Moreover, any accusation against the Chief Justice of India has to be placed on the administrative side before the senior-most judge whose name does not figure in the allegations.
Several legal associations expressed their deep reservations. Particulary the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association openly expressed its deep reservations on the procedure adopted by the CJI in suo motu dealing with the allegations. It said that these allegations have to be dealt with as per procedure established under law and must be 'applied in each and every case uniformly'. Besides, the Supreme Court Advocates' on Record Association strongly disapproves the manner in which the complaint was dealt with and seeks inquiry and action and therefore an immediate appointment of a committee headed by the full court of the Supreme Court must be initiated to impartially investigate and inquire into the allegations and give independent findings.
Allegations against the Chief Justice of India is serious in nature and it demands extreme care while processing the complaint. Due to the nature of the victim and her complaint against powerful personality it is always good to send this issue to an independent committee. That is the only reasonable and fair means of establishing justice and credibility of the institution.