Why shouldn't the Vishakha guidelines not apply to the CJI: Justice Santhosh Hegde
New Delhi, Apr 25: The Supreme Court has been in the news, following allegations of sexual harassment made against Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. On one hand an in-house committee of the Supreme Court is looking into the allegations, while on the other a Bench is hearing a petition filed by an advocate, who has alleged that the CJI was being framed.
In 1997, the Supreme Court in the Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan laid down guidelines on how to deal with sexual harassment cases at the work place. While it applies to everyone, the question is whether it would be applicable to the judges of the Supreme Court.
Former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Santhosh Hegde asks, why shouldn't the guidelines be made applicable to the judges and the Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court in a bid to prevent atrocities had laid down a judge made law. Sexual harassment is an offence and should be dealt with the law of the land, Justice Hegde tells OneIndia.
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 adds.
There is an in-house committee looking into the allegations. If it finds the allegations to be true, then it goes into the regular procedure. The committee cannot book a case and hence if the allegations are found to be true then it would suggest what is to be done next, the former judge of the Supreme Court who was also the Lokayukta of Karnataka adds.
On the special sitting that was convened last Saturday in the wake of the allegations, Justice Hegde says that the CJI ought not to have been on that Bench. This has led to an argument that the CJI was being biased. There are plenty of loopholes here.
Him being on the Bench was both legally and morally wrong. He was part of the Bench and nowhere in the records has placed that he was part of the Bench. He took part in the dialogue there and did not sign the order. The other two judges have signed the order. What does this mean asks Justice Hegde.
What message was he trying to send. As a CJI can he sit on a Bench and hear his own case? It is wrong says Justice Hegde.