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Jaitley comes out in support of CJI, says mass-intimidation of Judges is on

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New Delhi, Apr 21: Asserting that in the last few years India witnessed the consolidation of 'institution destabilizers' in a major way, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley described Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi as an epitome of "personal decency, values, ethics and integrity."

Jaitley, in a Facebook post, accused 'institutional disrupters' of destabilising the institution of Chief Justice of India (CJI) by lending shoulder to unverified allegations against the head of the apex court. The Finance Minister suggested that those who peddle falsehood should be dealt in an exemplary manner.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

"It's Time to Stand up With the Judiciary", Jaitley said in his blog, a day after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The Supreme Court even held an extraordinary hearing on Saturday after a former employee of the apex court accused the CJI of sexual harassment and persecution. The former employee has described two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, only days after he was appointed as the CJI. Jaitley said: "In terms of personal decency, values, ethics and integrity, the present Chief Justice of India is extremely well regarded.

[Judiciary being made a scapegoat says CJI on sexual misconduct charges]

Even when critics disagree with his judicial view, his value system has never been questioned. Lending shoulder to completely unverified allegations coming from a disgruntled person with a not-so-glorious track record is aiding the process of destabilisation of the institution of the Chief Justice of India." The Minister further said that those who "peddle falsehood to destroy the institution are not dealt with in an exemplary manner, this trend will only accelerate."

The incident of a junior ex-lady employee of the Supreme Court making harassment charges against the Chief Justice of India has acquired a "disproportionate magnitude", Jaitley said.

"Such complaints, when they are made in the ordinary course of any administrative functioning, are referred to the appropriate Committee. However, when the complainant distributes copies of her representation to other Judges of the Supreme Court and the media in order to sensationalise her allegations, it ceases to be routine. When four digital media organisations with an unparalleled track record of 'institutional disruption' send similar questionnaires to the Chief Justice of India, there is obviously something more than what meets the eye," the minister added.

Jaitley regretted that last few years have witnessed the consolidation of 'institution destabilizers' in a major way. "For the 'institutional disruptors' there are no red lines," he wrote. "Many of these destabilizers represent Left or ultra-Left views. They have no electoral base or popular support. However, they still have a disproportionate presence in the media and academia. When ousted for mainstream media, they have taken refuge in the digital and social media...

"Even though most of them subscribe to fringe ideologies and ideas, it is regrettable that a section of the Members of the Bar affiliated to the Congress Party tends to join them. Frequent attempts are made to get some Parliamentarians to sign Motion of Impeachment against judges and even the Chief Justice on unsustainable grounds. What has always puzzled me is the Congress lending support to such fringe campaigns", the minister said.

[Judiciary being made a scapegoat says CJI on sexual misconduct charges]

Justice Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India on October 3, 2018. He retires on November 17, 2019. Jaitley said India has witnessed a series of attacks by the 'institution disruptors' against judges who are unwilling to agree with them.

"It may not be an exaggeration to say that today both in Court and by creating an environment outside, a mass-intimidation of Judges is on," he said.

Stating that reputation is an integral part of a person's fundamental right to live with dignity, Jaitley said an intimidated judge can fear consequences of a possible view that he is taking. "It is, therefore, essential that all well-meaning persons stand with the judicial institution when destabilizers get ready for an assault," he said.

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