The woman who had accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, today demanded a copy of the report of the Supreme Court's in-house committee that cleared him of the charges. The committee, which continued its proceedings even after the complainant withdrew from the case last week, had not given her a copy of their findings. The report has not been made public either. Denying her a copy of the report, the woman said, "was a travesty of justice".
The committee's decision triggered protests outside the Supreme Court today. Women lawyers and members of non-profit groups who held the protest, alleged a lack of transparency in the matter.
A note from the court's Secretary General yesterday said the Committee has "found no substance in the allegations". It had also cited a precedent - concerning lawyer Indira Jaising - and said "it has been held that the Report of a Committee constituted as a part of the In-House Procedure is not liable to be made public".
A copy of the report was sent to the "next senior Judge competent to receive the Report" and the Chief Justice of India, it said.
The woman, who expressed her disappointment with the panel's decision, today said in-house proceeding rules were being "used to deny me and the public a right to the report". She said under the current laws on sexual harassment at workplace, she was entitled to a copy of the report.
"Not providing a copy to the complainant while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice," her statement today read.
She also said she was "shocked" that the "Committee has come to an adverse finding against me despite the fact that I was compelled to withdraw from the Committee since the committee did not observe even the most basic principles of natural justice".
"From the beginning I have been treated as an outsider, I have not been informed of the procedure, I have not been informed of my basic rights and obligations with regard to the inquiry proceedings," said the complainant, who withdrew from the inquiry after three hearings.
She had cited her concerns at the time, pointing out that under the panel's rules, she was not allowed to have a lawyer during the in camera proceedings or discussed the proceedings with her, or be given a copy of her statement.
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".
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