The Supreme Court today issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh High Court as it stayed action against a district judge accused of sexual harassment. "It has become a practice to complain against judges who are on the verge of getting promotion," the top court said this afternoon while hearing the case.
"This is happening too often now. When somebody is on the verge of (getting) promotion... immediately, he becomes a bad man, otherwise he is good," Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
A bench led by the Chief Justice was hearing an appeal by the senior district judge from Madhya Pradesh accused of sexual harassment.
The judge had moved the top court against the high court after his petition to quash the sexual harassment charges against him was dismissed. In 2018, a magistrate had alleged that she was sexually harassed by the judge; he is due to retire this year.
Senior advocate Col R R Balasubramanium, representing the petitioner, today told the top court: "Without giving him notice, a discreet inquiry was conducted by a district judge as per (the) high court order, which found him guilty. But when the report was sent to the gender sensitisation committee, the complainant - the judicial officer - did not come to present evidence despite repeated reminders (sent to her)."
Mr Balasubramanium said the gender committee did not say his client was "guilty" but it alleged "misconduct" because of some WhatsApp messages exchanged between the complainant and the petitioner. The committee wanted disciplinary action against the district judge, he added.
The judge worked for 34 years and faced embarrassment due to the allegations, the lawyer said, adding that "he was to be considered for elevation", which would have postponed his retirement.
After hearing the arguments, the top court stayed the action against the petitioner ordered by the high court.