#MeToo: CJI Ranjan Gogoi accused of sexual harassment, calls allegations fabricated

#MeToo: CJI Ranjan Gogoi accused of sexual harassment, calls allegations fabricated

Saying judicial independence was at stake, Gogoi, 64, called a special session of the apex court after the woman wrote to 22 Supreme Court judges on Friday, alleging he twice made sexual advances in the office of his official residence in October a year ago.

However, former SCBA president and senior advocate Vikas Singh said the proper course would be to have an in-house inquiry by some senior Supreme Court judges to authoritatively find out the truth "this way or that way" in a time-bound manner.

He said that allegations are being thrown at him because he is hearing a sensitive hearing next week.

However, all the allegations have been denied by the top court's office.

Gogoi said the events showed that India's judiciary was under "serious threat" and was being destabilised by a larger conspiracy, without elaborating. Gogoi said the woman had a criminal background and that the media must act responsibly on reporting the allegations.

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Indian Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the accusations made by a 35-year-old junior court assistant were an attempt to stop him hearing important cases.

The victim alleged that she, her husband, a head constable with the Delhi Police, and their family underwent harassment over the past few months after she spoke about the inappropriate advances allegedly made by Justice Gogoi. "All employees of the Supreme Court are treated respectfully by me". The question remains even though the CJI opted himself out midway in the hearing and left it to the other two judges, who were nominated to be a part of the bench, to take a call for passing the judicial order.

The woman was a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court from May 1, 2014 until December 21, 2018 when she was "unceremoniously terminated".

Gogoi was sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India on October 2018. He also said that the woman was employed for a month and half and that he didn't deem appropriate to reply to the allegations when they first surfaced. He added, "The independence of judiciary is under severe threat". Gogoi added, "Then her husband made unsolicited calls to the CJI's office seeking the CJI's help to put the lady back in service and help him in getting reinstated in service as he was under suspension pending departmental action. Is this a reward the Chief Justice gets after 20 years", he asked. That is why I said good people (lawyers) are not coming to this side (judicial).

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear next week the cases related to the prime minister's biopic, a contempt of court case against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and a case regarding the seizure of cash in Tamil Nadu.

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