Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment by a former court staff member on Friday, April 19, in an affidavit.
The 35-year-old woman submitted the affidavit to the respective residences of 22 judges of the Supreme Court, in which she alleged that the current Chief Justice was inappropriate with her, and had her removed from her post when she did not reciprocate. The incidents occurred in October 2018.
The woman mentioned separate incidents where she allegedly encountered the CJI when she was working at his residential office. In an exclusive carried by The Quint, a senior lawyer said, "Her entire family has been harassed, victimised and intimidated. Thereafter false criminal cases have been lodged against her. So there is relentless intimidation and victimisation that is going on not just to silence her but to also punish her. She has narrated everything supported by documents."
Replying to the allegations levelled against him, the CJI said in a statement that he would not stoop so low to even deny the charges and that less than 10 hours were given to him to make a statement.
In his statement, Gogoi replied, "I don't think that this can be of a plot of a junior assistant. There is a bigger plot. They want to deactivate the office of the CJI. Independence of judiciary is under very very serious threat. If the judges have to work under these conditions, good people will never come to this office."
According to Bar and Bench, he asserted, "I will sit on this Bench and discharge my duties without fear and favour till my tenure is over."
The Chief Justice then defended himself to the "citizens of the country and stating that this pillar of democracy is "under serious threat" but he will continue working.
He also added, "They cannot catch me on money, so they have brought up this. This is the reward a CJI gets after 20 years and a bank balance of Rs 680000. Independence of judiciary under very very serious threat. I had to tell this from the judicial seat."
Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, said that the matter should be "taken very very seriously". The Supreme Court held an emergency hearing on the morning of April 20, Saturday after the sexual assault charges were levelled against Gogoi.
A notice was issued by the top court reading, "Take notice that a special bench consisting of the Hon'ble chief justice of India, Hon'ble Mr Justice Arun Mishra and Hon'ble Mr Justice Sanjiv Khanna is being constituted to have a special sitting at 10:30 AM today i.e. the 20th April 2019 in the Chief Justice's court to deal with a matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary, on a mention being made by Shri Tushar Mehta, Ld. Solicitor General."