Hot Off The PressNews

The In-House committee, headed by Justice SA Bobde, also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, found “no substance” in the sexual harassment allegations levelled by a former Supreme Court employee against the CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

The notice published on Supreme Court website read that the report has been submitted to the next senior judge competent to received the report i.e. Justice Arun Mishra. A copy of the report has also been handed over to the Chief Justice. It also stated that according to the verdict in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, (2003) 5 SCC 494, the report of any Committee constituted as a part of in-house procedure can’t be made public.

The former employee had submitted her complaint against the CJI in an affidavit form to 22 Supreme Court judges on April 19.


Also Read: 

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Order on advocate’s claims of conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi reserved

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Justice AK Patnaik to look into ‘conspiracy’ angle

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A special 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has appointed former Supreme Court judge, Justice A. K. Patnaik, to hold an inquiry into the allegations made in the affidavits.to probe an advocate’s claim that there was a “conspiracy” to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case.

The bench, however, clarified that the outcome of the inquiry shall not affect the in-house procedure/inquiry which is pending in the administrative side in any manner whatsoever. It said,

“this inquiry shall not be with respect to the alleged misbehaviour involving Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India. This is with respect to the contents of the affidavits, whether the affidavits are correct or not.”

The Court also asked the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, to cooperate with the Hon’ble Judge as and when their services are required at any point of time for the purpose of investigation of the matter.

Asking Justice Patnaik to submit a report to this Court on the basis of the inquiry as to the allegations mentioned in the affidavits, the bench said that it will next take up the matter after the report is submitted.

On 24.04.2019, Advocate Bains had submitted an affidavit in Court in a sealed cover. The bench had directed that,

“It is to be kept in a sealed cover in total confidentiality, as it contains highly sensitive information pertaining to the alleged conspiracy, according to him, to frame Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India into a case of sexual harassment.”

Naming Tapan Kumar Chakraborty and Manav Sharma and others in his affidavit, Advocate Bains had mentioned that,

“the disgruntled employees have ganged together in order to frame Hon’ble The Chief Justice of India in the false charge of sexual harassment after their dismissal from their services.”

He has also alleged that they have asserted that they could fix the Bench of the Judges.

The Court had, on 24.04.2019, said,

“Considering the seriousness of the allegations as the system has absolutely no place for such fixers, we cannot leave the matter at that. It becomes our responsibility to keep this Institution clean as well as to ensure that the image of this Institution is not tarnished by such allegations to undertake the probe in the matter.”

[In Re : Matter of great public importance touching upon the Independence of Judiciary, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 604, order dated 25.04.2019]


Also read:

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Order on advocate’s claims of conspiracy to frame CJI Gogoi reserved

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Advocate claiming ‘conspiracy’ to appear before SC tomorrow

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A special 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has reserved its order on the issue of setting up an inquiry committee to probe an advocate’s claim that there was a “conspiracy” to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case. The bench will pronounce its order later in the day.

During the course of the hearing, advocate Utsav Bains, who made the claim about a conspiracy to frame Justice Gogoi, submitted an additional affidavit on the direction of the court. In his affidavit, Bains submitted that he cannot share the names of the “fixers” as “privileged communication under the Advocates Act” cannot be disclosed.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said the claim of privilege under Section 126 of the Evidence Act is not applicable to any communication between Bains and the alleged fixers. He said that a court can ask for any document relevant to a case.
Supporting the Attorney General’s argument, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Rakesh Khanna submitted that there is “no sacrosanct right” to withhold any document. He said that the court has the power to seek production of documents over which privilege
is claimed.

“Whatever he (Bains) divulged to us, in any case, our power to inspect the documents is there,”

Mishra, J said,

“There is systematic attempt/game, so many things have not come out. The truth has not come out. These things are in the air for a long time and people of the country must know the truth. There has been a systemic attack against the Supreme Court,”

“We are in anguish the way this institution is being treated for the last 3-4 years is as if this institution will die. This is the court made by the likes of Fali Nariman, Nani Palkhiwala, K Parasaran. … Every day we hear about bench-fixing, every day we hear of wrong practices in this court. This has to go. The day has come when we have to rise to the occasion and tell the rich and powerful that they cannot run the Supreme Court. … Don’t provoke us anymore. We want to tell the rich and the powerful that they are playing with fire. This is not the way a country can run,”

Senior advocate Indira Jaising told the court that the inquiry headed by Justice S A Bobde into the sexual harassment charge and the case before the court should be conducted together.

Mishra, J, however, clarified that that the outcome of this inquiry into the conspiracy charge will not affect that inquiry into the sexual harassment charge. He remarked,

“Three to five per cent lawyers are giving a bad name to this institution. Don’t provoke us any further, we are worried as judges. We will see
how it can be an independent inquiry.”

On Tuesday, a three-member committee of the court led by Justice Bobde, the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice, was formed to look into the allegation of sexual harassment made by a dismissed employee against Justice Gogoi. The other two members of the committee are Justices NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee. Justice Ramana is the third in the seniority list in the Supreme court and will the Chief Justice after the retirement of Justice Bobde.

(Source: ANI)


Also read:

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: Advocate claiming ‘conspiracy’ to appear before SC tomorrow

Sexual Harassment allegations against CJI: 2-judge bench to hear the matter after CJI opts out mid-way

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta, JJ has sought response from advocate Utsav Bains, who claimed that there is a conspiracy to frame up the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case. The Court has posted the matter for hearing tomorrow and has sought Utsav Bains’s presence before it.

The bench was hearing a case relating to the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi. The charges have been leveled by a dismissed
woman employee of the Supreme Court.

Advocate Utsav Bains on Monday filed an affidavit saying there was a larger ‘conspiracy’ playing out to compel the CJI to resign. He claimed that when he refused to take up the case on finding several loopholes in her story, the person offered him Rs 50 lakh, which was raised to Rs 1.50 crore. Bains further claimed that on inquiry, he found that “certain fixers”, who claim to be engaged in illegally managing judgments in exchange for cash, were behind the plot as the Chief Justice had taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers.

“The said fixer Romesh Sharma was running a ‘cash for judgment’ racket in cahoots with businessmen and politicians and had exercised considerable influence for years, which ultimately was brought to an end by the present CJI, as he took decisive action against them after becoming CJI.”

He further claimed,

“There was a conspiracy against the Chief Justice of India to force him to resign and thereby threaten every judge with dire consequences for being free and fearless in dispensing justice while pronouncing judgments against the rich and powerful in the country.”

On Saturday, a Special bench met for a sitting to discuss online media reports of sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The bench said,

“The independence of the judiciary is under very serious threat and there is a larger conspiracy to destabilise the judiciary,”

The hurriedly constituted 3-judge special bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, in the case related to allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, was reduced to a 2-judge bench when CJI left it to justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna to take a call on the issue of passing judicial order.

As the hearing progressed, the CJI opted out midway from passing any judicial order and said,

“I am not going to be a part of the judicial order. Justice Arun Mishra is the senior most judge available in Delhi and he will dictate the order,”

The bench, however, did not pass any judicial order and left it to the wisdom of the media to decide on the publication of reports in order to protect the independence of the judiciary.

(Source: ANI)

OP. ED.

Me Too movement in India is one of those movements and protests which is acting like an eye-opener along with a soul-opener for the patriarchal society by leading it towards the cleansing of anarchs and patriarchs. It is not limited to one particular sect, category or profession; it is a term being used by every woman who has faced any degree of sexual harassment in her entire life.

Sexual Harassment: It results in violation of the fundamental rights of a woman to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution and right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business which includes a right to a safe environment free from sexual harassment.

The cases of sexual harassment are being voiced out from almost every other profession that exists, which forces us to highlight this specific Act with a view to give clarity on “Sexual Harassment of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition And Redressal) Act, 2013”.

Background of the Act:

The said Act was formulated and is based on the commonly known as ‘Vishakha Guidelines”, Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan; (1997) 6 SCC 241. The decision of the said case was in regard to ‘Rights of working women against sexual harassment in the workplace’, in which it was held that working women have rights to gender equality, to work with dignity and to a working environment safe and protected from sexual harassment or abuse.

In accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013the term Sexual Harassment has been defined under Section 2(n) as follows:

“It includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts of behaviour (whether directly or by implication) namely:-

  • Physical contact and advances; or
  • a demand or request for sexual favours; or
  • making sexually coloured remarks; or
  • showing pornography; or
  • any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature;

The relevant provisions of the Act, a compilation of total 30 provisions ranging from filing of complaint to punishments, etc. have been clearly stated in the Act which can be referred below:

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013” 

Penal Code, 1860 | Provisions protecting women in cases of Sexual Harassment:

Section 294- Obscene acts and songs.—Whoever, to the annoyance of others—(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

Section 354- Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.—Whoever assaults or uses criminal force to any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both

Section 354 (A) – Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment.—(1) A man committing any of the following acts—

(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures; or

(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours; or

(iii) showing pornography against the will of a woman; or

(iv) making sexually coloured remarks,

shall be guilty of the offence of sexual harassment.

(2) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (i) or clause (ii) or clause (iii) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(3) Any man who commits the offence specified in clause (iv) of sub-section (1) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Section 354-B. Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe.—Any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman or abets such act with the intention of disrobing or compelling her to be naked, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 354-C. Voyeurism.—Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 354-D. Stalking.—(1) Any man who—

(i) follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or

(ii) monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking:

Provided that such conduct shall not amount to stalking if the man who pursued it proves that—

(i) it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime and the man accused of stalking had been entrusted with the responsibility of prevention and detection of crime by the State; or

(ii) it was pursued under any law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any law; or

(iii) in particular circumstances, such conduct was reasonable and justified.

(2) Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.]

Section 499- Defamation.—Whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.

Section 503- Criminal intimidation.—Whoever threatens another with an injury to his person, reputation or property, or to the person or reputation of anyone in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threats, commits criminal intimidation.

Section 509- Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.—Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen, by such woman, or intrudes upon the privacy of such woman,[shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and also with fine].

Information Technology  Act, 2000

 If a man posts any obscene or defamatory material on a public, online platform, intending to harass a woman, it is considered a crime under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act. The accused can face jail time of 10 years coupled with a fine.

Sexual Harassment electronic-Box (SHe-Box) for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace was launched 

The Minister of Women & Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi launched an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box) for registering complaints related to sexual harassment at workplace today. The complaint management system has been developed to ensure the effective implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.

Few Matters pertaining to ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplace’:

  • In 2012, an employee working at a restaurant at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, filed a case against a senior Air India official, accusing him of sexually harassing her by showing her porn clips and making physical advances. The woman alleged that the Assistant General Manager at Air India ignored her complaint.
  • Wipro was dragged to court by Shreya Ukil in 2015, when she alleged that she was being discriminated against when it came to increment of salary and that her manager forced her to have an affair with him. In the GBP1.2-million lawsuit filed in London, Wipro won the case when UK Employment Tribunal upheld the dismissal of the complainant from the services of the organisation as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organisation.
  • In the most recent case of sexual harassment, a former employee alleged rampant sexual harassment by the CEO Arunabh Kumar of the Viral Fever (TVF). The complaint was made anonymously on social media and several other TVF employees came out in support, recounting their own incidents of molestation. The CEO, blatantly wielding his position of power in his unapologetic comment to the Mumbai Mirror, said, “The kind of insinuations the FB post makes are untrue. I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy. I compliment women. Is that wrong? Having said that, I am very particular about my behaviour – I will approach a woman, but never force myself.”

As the countless harrowing incidents of women are coming up, we as a society need to believe in them and their stories by giving them a direction towards the umbrella of rights as stated above in wake of justice and protection of their integrity.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ asked chief justices or acting chief justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in courts across the country within two months in accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by a practising woman advocate who alleged that she had been assaulted by some lawyers observing a strike at the Tis Hazari district court complex. Asking the crime branch of Delhi Police to investigate the cross complaints filed by the lawyers, the Bench asked the woman lawyer and the Bar leaders to amicably settle their disputes and directed that advocates from both sides should not be arrested in connection with the two cross FIRs filed by them against each other.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 requires every workplace to set up committees to probe sexual harassment complaints.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Deciding the question regarding the compliance of principles of natural justice in the context of inquiry conducted by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 the Court held that when prejudicial statements are made, the same shall not be used against any person without giving him an opportunity to correct and contradict.

The issue involved a complaint against the appellant to ICC of Air India, Southern Region of misconduct based on sexual harassment by 17 women employees of Air India-SATS. Based on the complaint, the ICC conducted an enquiry and submitted its report. The appellant was aggrieved on the ground of non-compliance with the principles of natural justice as the inquiry concluded without giving him an opportunity to cross-examine the complainant and to controvert the factual finding in the inquiy report, hence vitiating the same. The stand of the Airport Authority was that the report was a priliminary report to find the apellant’s involvement and when a prima facie case was made out, further disciplinary proceedings would be initiated as per the rules and regulations of Air India.

Setting aside the impugned report, the Bench of Muhamed Mustaque, J. held that every Internal Complaints Committee constituted under the Act necessarily has to follow the principles of natural justice in conducting their enquiry. The Rules framed under the Act also indicate that the Committee shall follow the principles of natural justice [See Rule 7(4)].  The Court observed that the inquiry conducted by ICC as to the fact finding is final unless it is varied in appeal. It cannot be varied by the employer in a follow-up action to be taken in terms of Section 13.

The Court held that “The fundamental principles relating to the principles of natural justice is that when prejudicial statements are made, the same shall not be used against any person without giving him an opportunity to correct and contradict.

The Court noted that verbal cross-examination is not the sole criteria to controvert/contradict any statement of the aggrieved before any authority. Primarily in a sexual harassment complaint, the Committee has to verify and analyse the capability of the aggrieved to depose before them fearlessly without any intimidation. Fair opportunity has to be understood in the context of an atmosphere of free expression of grievance. If the Committee is of the view that the witness or complainant can freely depose without any fear, certainly the delinquent can be permitted to have verbal cross-examination of such witnesses. In cases, where the Committee is of the view that the complainant is not in a position to express freely,  it can adopt such other method permitting the delinquent to contradict and correct either by providing statement to the delinquent and soliciting his objections to such statement. The Court observed that a fair opportunity should be given to the delinquent in such manner as the committee thinks fit to consider. The ICC was directed to reconsider the matter after giving fullest opportunity to the petitioner. [L.S. Sibu v. Air India Limited, Writ Petition (C) No. 4001 of 2016 (A), decided on April 8, 2016]