New Delhi, Jan 16: Justice Vikramjit Sen can continue to head the panel probing sexual harassment charges against a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge despite his retirement from the Supreme Court, but the Rajya Sabha Chairman is free to replace him, the Attorney General has said.
In an opinion tendered to the Rajya Sabha secretariat, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has said Justice Vikramjit Sen can continue to head the three-member panel to probe charges of sexual harassment against Madhya Pradesh High Court judge Justice S K Gangele and complete the probe as soon as possible.
The Rajya Sabha secretariat had asked the Law Ministry whether Justice Sen, a sitting Supreme Court judge when he was appointed the chief of the panel in April last year, can continue to head it despite his retirement on December 31, 2015.
The Ministry was also asked if another sitting SC judge is appointed in place of Justice Sen, will the panel start its investigation afresh or continue from where the Sen panel had left.
Referring to views in some quarters of the Law Ministry that a new presiding officer be appointed following retirement of Justice Sen, the AG said the Rajya Sabha Chairman can also nominate another sitting judge of the Supreme Court in his place.
He said the probe by the committee could recommence from the stage it was on December 31 when Justice Sen retired.
The top law officer has opined both the options would be valid. Rohatgi said the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968 is silent on whether a judge can continue on an investigation panel after his or her retirement.
In April last year, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari had set up the three-member panel to investigate sexual harassment charges against Justice Gangele. Besides Justice Sen, other members of the committee are Justice Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, and jurist K K Venugopal.