Justice Ganguly, indicted for sexual harassment, quits as West Bengal rights panel chief

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Kolkata:  Former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly, indicted for sexual harassment, has resigned as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights panel, sources say.

Justice Ganguly reportedly handed in his resignation to West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan on Monday evening. After the meeting, however, he told reporters, "No comments."

Last month, a committee of three Supreme Court judges found the former judge guilty of sexually harassing a lawyer who interned for him, at a five-star hotel in Delhi in December 2012.

The panel indicted him for "unwelcome behaviour" and "conduct of sexual nature" towards the woman but said no action could be taken as Justice Ganguly had retired before the incident.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, who made public the woman's statement to the judges' panel, said she was happy about Justice Ganguly's resignation. "It was long overdue, it should have come earlier. This is a case about the treatment of working women, whether it is a judge or any other person, a certain standard of behaviour is expected," she told NDTV.

Justice Ganguly, 66, has been under intense political pressure to step down since the young lawyer blogged about the incident two months ago, without naming him. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had since written to President Pranab Mukherjee twice, seeking his removal.

Last week, the Union Cabinet had cleared a request for a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court to forcibly remove Justice Ganguly. Sources say he didn't want to face the embarrassment of a Presidential reference.

After Justice Ganguly's resignation, former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said, "Better late than never. The thing is that he was under so much pressure, maybe his family members also saw the pressure."

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a petition arguing that the former judge was framed by detractors, and dismissed a second plea questioning its decision to appoint the panel of judges to investigate the allegations. Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam said, "We don't need to explain to everyone who appears before us why did we appoint the committee."

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