Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has been cleared of allegations of sex harassment by a panel of three judges. There is "no substance" in the allegations, ruled the in-house committee of the Supreme Court, which heard the allegations of a former Supreme Court employee against the country's top judge.
"The in-house inquiry committee has found no substance in the allegations in the complaint dated April 19 of a former employee of the Supreme Court," the Supreme Court said in a statement on Monday.
The panel, which includes Justice SA Bobde, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Indu Malhotra, also said its report was "not liable to be made public". This means the inquiry report will not be shared with the complainant.
The woman, who had dropped out of the inquiry after three hearings, said "gross injustice" had been done to her and she was "dejected and disappointed" with the outcome. "My worst fears have come true and all hope of justice and redress from the highest court of the land has been shattered. I will consult my lawyer and decide on the next steps. Today, I am at the verge of losing faith in the idea of justice," she said in a statement.
The Chief Justice appeared on Wednesday before the panel, which continued the inquiry even after the complainant opted out.
The woman withdrew from the inquiry on Tuesday, saying she felt she was "not likely to get justice from this committee". In a letter, she said she found the "atmosphere of the committee very frightening" and that she felt "very nervous" as she was not allowed to bring her lawyer or discuss the proceedings with her.
The panel's composition was tweaked after her objections that one of the judges, Justice NV Ramana, was a close family friend of the Chief Justice.
Justice Ramana immediately withdrew from the panel, saying while he rejected her aspersions on his "capacity to render impartial judgment", it was essential that justice "must not only be done, but also manifestly seem to be done".
Soon after the allegation surfaced last month in a news report, Chief Justice Gogoi, at a special hearing of the top court, denied the woman's claims and said he was being targeted as he was to hear several important cases.
"There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate office of Chief Justice," the Chief Justice said, alleging that the independence of the judiciary was "under threat" and it was being made a "scapegoat".