With sexual harassment allegations against Gogoi, the spotlight is back on similar cases, with the highest judicial office in the country coming under scrutiny for its failure to protect its female staff
A junior court assistant had sent a complaint to 22 SC judges, narrating a series of events, spelling out how Gogoi allegedly sexually harassed her
NEW DELHI :
On Saturday afternoon, a battery of lawyers staunchly defended allegations of sexual harassment against the highest judicial office in India.
While allegations of sexual harassment stung Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, the episode brings back the spotlight on the #MeToo movement which had recently surfaced, with women across the board speaking about episodes of sexual harassment at the workplace.
On 19 April, a junior court assistant and a former employee in Gogoi’s office sent a complaint-letter attached with a detailed affidavit to 22 Judges of the Supreme Court, narrating a series of events, spelling out how Gogoi had allegedly sexually harassed her. Her resistance to his advances, were allegedly followed by professional targeting, harassment for her family and criminal cases.
While the #MeToo movement had gained traction in India with actor Tanushree Dutta levelling allegations of sexual harassment against co-actor Nana Patekar, it brought down from office former minister of state for external affairs, M.J. Akbar after allegations of sexual misconduct levelled by several women journalists, came to light, last year.
With Gogoi, however, the spotlight is back once again on similar cases, with the highest judicial office in the country coming under scrutiny for its failure to protect its women staff.
“Women do need to speak up against acts like sexual harassment and women and other employees need to know what the true meaning of this act in letter and spirit. We should be able to create a safer and better working atmosphere for women," said Rashmi Singh, a women’s rights activist.
The complainant, in her affidavit, spelt out explicit details of Gogoi’s advances. Even as her arguments were countered in a hearing on Saturday, at the Supreme Court, with senior advocates Tushar Mehta and K.K. Venugopal labeling it an “attack", the secretary general of the Supreme Court sent a reply to this complaint in an email mentioning, “She worked as part of the home office of the Chief Justice of India only for a short period and there was no occasion to interact directly with the Chief Justice of India." Further the mail also mentioned that this a clear case of big conspiracy.
The Supreme Court of India took suo-moto cognizance of the allegations and a notice was circulated on 20 April, following which a special bench headed by the CJI himself heard the matter. The CJI stated that how he was targeted, adding that for him honour came first with all these baseless allegations coming across as an apparent “conspiracy to malign" his image.