SC closes probe into ‘larger conspiracy’ against ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi

Courtesy: Live Law

New Delhi: The Supreme Court cited the remote possibility of recovery of electronic evidence on account of the passage of two years as a reason to close the suo moto case initiated in April 2019 to probe into the “larger conspiracy” behind the sexual harassment allegations levelled against the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

“We are also of the view that two years having passed and the possibility of recovery of electronic records at this distance of time is remote”, observed a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian on Thursday while closing the case.

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The suo moto case titled “In Re : Matter Of Great Public Importance Touching Upon The Independence Of Judiciary-Mentioned By Shri Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India” was initiated on April 25, 2019, after few media portals published the complaint of a former staff of the Supreme Court, who accused the then CJI Gogoi of sexually harassing her.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta had then appointed an enquiry commission headed by former SC judge Justice AK Patnaik to examine the conspiracy angle, after Justice Gogoi said in the open court that the sexual harassment allegations were a plot to “deactivate the office of the CJI”. The Court had also directed the CBI, Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police to give necessary assistance to Justice Patnaik in his probe.

The bench had also taken note of the affidavit filed by Advocate Utsav Bains claiming that he was approached by certain “fixers” and “plotters” to file complaint against Gogoi.

Almost two years down the line, the top court has closed the proceedings after taking note of Justice Patnaik’s enquiry report which opined that “it is not possible to find corroborative material qua the allegations of Mr. Utsav Singh Bains made in the affidavit”.

The order passed by Justice Kaul-led bench further observed that the report of Justice Patnaik – which has not been made available in public domain – acknowledged that the “existence of a conspiracy cannot be completely ruled out”.

The order also notes that Justice A.K. Patnaik has not been able to obtain various records including electronic records of Whatsapp, Telegram etc. The report also referred to letter of the Director of the Intelligence Bureau which stated on account of the then Chief Justice of India taking serious tough decisions like in the case relating to National Register of Citizens (NRC), there was strong reason to believe that persons who were unhappy with those decisions hatched a conspiracy against the then Chief Justice of India.

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