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Did SC panel cite a pre-RTI verdict while concealing findings in CJI harassment case

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New Delhi, May 07: On Monday, an in-house panel of the Supreme Court rejected a complaint accusing Chief Justice of India of sexual harassment. The committee which put out a short notice however cited a Supreme Court judgment while stating that the findings would not be disclosed in public interest.

"Please take note that in the case of Indira Jaisingh vs Supreme Court of India and And (2003) 5 SCC 494, it has been held that the report of a committee constituted as a part of the in-house procedures not liable to be made public," the Secretary General had said while announcing the clean chit to Justice Gogoi.

File photo of Ranjan Gogoi

The question is could the committee have cited this verdict which is a pre-RTI case. Reacting with the hashtag, NotInMyName, Indira Jaisingh took to Twitter to demand the disclosure of the findings by the inquiry committee.

"This is a scandal, Indira Jaising v Supreme Court of India was also a case of sexual harassment by a sitting High Court of Karnataka. It is a pre RTI case and is bad in law Demand the disclosure of the findings of the enquiry committee in public interest," Jaisingh tweeted.

In the 2003 verdict was delivered by a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Rajendra Babu and G P Mathur. It rejected a petition filed by Jaisingh in which the disclosure of the final report of a three judge committee which had inquired into complaints allegedly involving three sitting judges of the Karnataka High Court was sought. The panel had given the judges a clean chit.

SC panel finds no merit in sexual harassment charges against CJI

The court had held that an in-house inquiry conducted to probe complaints filed against the Chief Justice of judges of the High Court is for the purpose of his own information and satisfaction and a report made on such inquiry if given publicity will only lead to more harm than good to the institution as the judges would prefer to face inquiry leading to impeachment.

Former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Santhosh Hegde had told OneIndia that the Vishaka guidelines should be made applicable to judges as well. "According to me the CJI does not have immunity in such cases. He is probed in a manner different from the other owing to his constitutional authority. Fair enough, he holds an important position and should be probed in a different manner," Justice Hegde also said.

Reacting to the verdict of the panel, the complainant raised a couple of points while saying that she was shattered and dejected.

In a statement she said, "I, the woman complainant, a former SC employee, am not just highly disappointed and dejected to learn that the In-House Committee 'has found no substance' in my complaint, but feel that gross injustice has been done to me as a woman citizen of India."

"I am now extremely scared and terrified because the in-house committee, despite having all material placed before them, has given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely malafide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family," she also said.

She had also said that she was denied access to a lawyer and was also not aware if the SHO who took her to the CJI's wife was called. I will consult my lawyer on the next steps, she also said.

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