Don’t proceed with inquiry “ex parte”: Justice Chandrachud to panel probing sexual harassment allegations against CJI

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court judges Justices D Y Chandrachud and Rohintan Nariman shared their concerns with the in-house panel to not proceed with the inquiry “ex parte” to probe the sexual harassment allegations against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, reports The Indian Express.

A three-member committee comprising justices Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee is investigating the allegation against the CJI.

It is reported that Justice Nariman, fifth in seniority among the judges of the Supreme Court and tenth in the list of seniority Justice Chandrachud met with the in-house panel on Friday evening to express their objections about the ongoing probe with the panel.

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The three-judge panel, led by Justice Sharad Bobde, has decided to proceed ex-parte after the complainant withdrew from the proceedings.

The woman, a former Supreme Court staffer, who has alleged sexual harassment, withdrew from the proceedings of the committee on Tuesday. In a statement to the media, she expressed serious reservations over the panel, saying it was “an in-house committee of sitting judges junior to the CJI and not an external committee as I had requested.”

The panel was re-constituted after the woman objected to the inclusion of Justice NV Ramana on the committee, as he was apparently a close friend of the Chief Justice. Justice Ramana immediately withdrew from the panel, and he was replaced by a woman judge.

In the three hearings scheduled until Tuesday, the woman said she felt “quite intimidated and nervous” in the presence of the three judges of the Supreme Court.

The committee was formed after the woman leveled allegations against the Chief Justice reportedly in a letter to 22 judges of the Supreme Court.

After the allegations of sexual harassment surfaced on April 20, the CJI held an urgent hearing and he categorically denied the woman’s allegations.

The CJI termed it as an attack on the independence of the judiciary. “There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate office of Chief Justice,” he had said during the hearing.

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