In a shocking development, a 35-year-old woman has raised the complaint that the Supreme Court of India Chief Justice, Ranjan Gogoi, sexually harassed her. The woman, a former junior court assistant, wrote a letter to 22 judges of the apex court levelling the charges. She alleged that Gogoi made sexual passes at her twice during October last year.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Supreme Court of India denied the allegations, saying it was "completely and absolutely false and scurrilous".
"Its is also very possible that there are mischevious forces behind all this, with an intention to malign the institution," the office said in a email in reply to queries on the issue, the Scroll reported.
Narrating her ordeal, the woman says in her complaint that she was transferred from the CJI's residence office after the sexual harassment incident. In a shocking turn of events, the employee was dismissed from service on December 1 on grounds that she had taken a single-day casual leave without approval.
If the statements in the woman's sworn affidavit are to be believed, the events that ensued after the top judge's alleged misbehaviour were predatory. After the woman was dismissed, her husband, a head constable with the Delhi police, was suspended from service on December 28. His brother, also a head constable with the Delhi police, was suspended as well, the complaint says.
The victim, who worked as a junior court assistant, detailed the harassment in an affidavit sent to all judges of the supreme court on April 19.
The supreme court Secretary General's office, in a written reply to media queries, however, narrated a different account of the happenings. One pertinent paragraph goes thus:
"The motive behind these false and scurrilous allegations is obviously mischevious. As referred to in your letter, there is a criminal case pending against her, where very serious allegation have been made, of her having taken a bribe to assure employment in the Supreme Court of India. It has been learnt that there is an application for the cancellation of bail earlier granted to her, which is listed for hearing on 20.04.2019 on acoount of her having made threats to the complainant of the said case."
The victim's own account, which the 22 judges of the supreme court are reviewing, differs drastically and offers a blow by blow account of the events from her point of view. The woman says her work had earned the praise of the chief justice and she was given invitations to high-profile functions. She says everything changed when she rebuffed the physical advances of Gogoi in October.
The Caravan has reported that the woman has also submitted evidence including video recordings as part of her complaint. This pertains to the incident in which a police official accompanied her to the CJI's residence after she was fired from the service. She says that she was made to apologise to the CJI's wife at this point.
The Secreatry General's letter says that there have been "complaints made against her by the secretariat of the Chief Justice of India, to the Secretary General on account of her inappropriate behavior,". It says this resulted in her transfer out of the home office of the CJI. "Apart from the misconduct formally recorded in the complaint by the secretariat, there were other counts of misconduct on her part."
However, the letter doesn't give details of her alleged misdeeds.
"It appears that these false allegations are being made asa pressure tactics to somehow come out of the various proceedings which have been initiated in law, against her and her family, for their on wrong doings. Its is also very possible that there are mischevious forces behind all this, with an intention to malign the institution," the letter says.
The woman says in her complaint that her last resort was writing to the supreme court judges. "It is only when the victimisation has reached unbearable proportions when me and my family were taken into police custody and tortured, and now there is imminent danger to my life that I am compelled to speak the whole truth, in order to save myself and my family," she says.
"I have been victimised for resisting and refusing the unwanted sexual advances of the CJI and my entire family has also been victimised and harassed due to that."