- An in-house panel of three judges formed to look into the accusations
- Former court employee has levelled charges against the Chief Justice
- A lawyer claims accusations part of a conspiracy to make top judge resign
A panel of three Supreme Court judges -- including a woman judge -- will look into the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, levelled by a former employee of the court. According to sources, the decision to set up the panel was taken by a full court - attended by all the judges except Chief Justice Gogoi. Justice SA Bobde, who is next in seniority to Justice Gogoi, will head the panel. The others are Justices NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee.
"I picked Justice Ramana because he is next to me in seniority and Justice Banerjee because she is a woman judge," PTI quoted Justice Bobde as saying.
Chief Justice Gogoi has strongly denied the allegations, asserting that the independence of the judiciary is "under threat" and it was being made a "scapegoat". "This is unbelievable. I don't think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations," he said on Saturday during an emergency hearing.
That hearing, however, was criticised by two associations of the top court - the Supreme Court Bar association and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association, which wanted the full court to take a call on further action. In a statement, around 33 personalities including Medha Patkar, Arundhati Royand Aruna Roy sought an independent inquiry.
According to sources, the full court today passed the resolution to form the panel. Justice Bobde proposed the move, which was accepted by his colleagues. The proposal has been circulated among all the judges.
Yesterday, sources said all 27 judges had rallied behind the Chief Justice during the informal morning meeting over tea. Several judges had spoken of how the judiciary is being intimidated.
Earlier today, the three-member bench heard the affidavit of lawyer Utsav Bains, who alleged that the "false case of sexual harassment" was part of a conspiracy aimed at forcing the Chief Justice to resign. He claims to have been offered Rs 1.5 crore in order to represent the woman and arrange a press meet against top judge.
The court asked the advocate to present himself in court on Wednesday and submit all the relevant material in this regard.
Chief Justice Gogoi has said that the allegations against him were levelled because he is slated to hear certain important cases in the coming days.
"I will sit on this chair and discharge my judicial functions without any fear... Things have gone too far," he said, adding that the woman who made the allegation against him has a criminal background and has two police cases against her.
(With inputs from PTI)