- Lawyer's affidavit claims conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India
- All 27 judges of top court rallied behind the Chief Justice: Sources
- In the affidavit, the lawyer also named some alleged "fixers"
A lawyer today filed an affidavit claiming there is a conspiracy to frame the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in a "false case of sexual harassment" that would force him to resign.
All 27 judges of the top court have rallied behind the Chief Justice, sources said, following the sexual harassment allegations against him made by a former employee at the top court in an affidavit to several judges.
The judges informally discussed the matter today during the informal meeting over morning tea, a convention of the top court.
The meeting went on longer than usual - the hearings started at 10.45 am instead of 10.30 am - fuelling speculation about a full-court meet to discuss the issue.
Sources, however, told NDTV that the meeting was a routine one, in which several judges spoke of how the judiciary is being intimidated.
In his affidavit, Utsav Bains, who appeared in several cases involving sexual harassment on behalf of the women and their families, claimed he was offered Rs 1.5 crore by one Ajay to represent a former employee of the Supreme Court and arrange a presser against Chief Justice Gogoi at the Press Club.
In his affidavit, he also named some alleged "fixers". The lawyer has appeared in the case against jailed self-styled Godman Asaram and the witness protection matter.
The lawyer's affidavit came as two associations of the top court - the Supreme Court Bar association and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association - said Saturday's hearing on the allegations of sexual harassment violated the "procedure and principles of natural justice".
The associations said they wanted the full court to decide on the further course of action.
Around 33 personalities including Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy in a statement sought an independent inquiry by a high level independent committee to probe the allegations against the Chief Justice of India
At an emergency hearing on Saturday, Chief Justice Gogoi strongly denied the allegations. The independence of the judiciary is "under threat" and it "cannot be made a scapegoat", he said.
Alleging a conspiracy, Chief Justice Gogoi said, "There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate office of Chief Justice". The allegations, he said, were made as he was scheduled to hear several important cases this week. Since there can be no corruption allegations against him, "people have to find something and they have found this," he added.
Justice Gogoi, who was heading the three-judge bench, said he would not pass any orders and the senior-most judge, Arun Mishra, will dictate the order. The bench, however, refrained from passing any judicial order "at this stage".
In a blog yesterday, Union minister Arun Jaitley accused "institutional disrupters" of destabilising the institution of Chief Justice of India by "lending shoulder to unverified allegations". "It's time to stand up with the judiciary", Mr Jaitley said in his blog.
The Supreme Court Employees' Welfare Association, a union of the top court staff, also condemned the allegations in a resolution and said these are aimed at maligning the institution.