Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Saturday said there was a “common thread” in the communications sent to him by four news portals that carried stories on allegation of sexual harassment against him, and suggested a “bigger force” could be behind the controversy to “deactivate” the office of the CJI.

The CJI, who was part of a hurriedly convened special bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna, said the four news portals — Scroll, The leaflet, Caravan and the Wire — have carried the stories on the allegations.

“There is a common thread in the communications, and the questions I was asked to answer are common,” he said, adding, “they (news portals) gave less than five hours notice to the CJI to respond”.

“This is unbelievable. I do not think I should stoop too low even to deny these allegations. But that comes after 20 years of selfless service as a judge,” he said.

He also said if such allegations were levelled against the judges then no sane person will come forward to take up judgeship.

“If such things will happen then no judge is going to decide the matters. He (judge) will say why should I decide. Then I will come (in the court) and simply adjourn the cases. Why any sane person will want to become a judge? Reputation is the only thing which a judge has,” the CJI said.

During the around 30-minute hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal also said, “The CJI’s today’s statement should get the widest publicity as possible.”

Venugopal said the law contemplated that name of either the complainant or the respondent should not be published in such cases but the news portals, which have carried out the allegations, have “brazenly published” it.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it “appears to be a sheer blackmail technique” and there was a need to conduct probe against the “unscrupulous lady” who has levelled these baseless allegations.

“In a probe, we can find a similar pattern. News was published within an hour,” Mehta said, adding, “Such rubbish has been published”.