In a major turn of events, the woman who had accused Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment said on Tuesday that she would not appear before an in-house committee set up by the apex court to probe her charges as she felt that she is “not likely to get justice”.
According to an IANS report, the woman, who appeared once before the committee, comprising Justices SA Bobde, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, said she felt “quite intimidated and nervous” in the presence of the three judges of the Supreme Court.
In a statement to the media, she expressed serious reservations over the panel, saying it was “an in-house committee of sitting judges junior to the CJI and not an external committee as I had requested…”
The woman said during the panel’s hearing on April 26, the judges told her that it was neither an in-house committee proceeding nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding.
“I was asked to narrate my account which I did to the best of my ability even though I felt quite intimidated and nervous in the presence of three Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court and without having a lawyer or support person with me,” said the woman.
“I felt I was not likely to get justice from this committee and so I am no longer participating in the 3 Judge Committee proceedings,” she said in the statement.
The woman had told the committee that she had lost hearing in one ear completely due to “stress” and as a consequence, she was “unable to hear, sometimes, the instructions that were being dictated by Justice Bobde to the court official as a record of my statements before the committee.”
She added that “the committee declined my request for video recording” of the committee proceedings. “I was also clearly told that no lawyer/support person could be present with me during the committee hearing.”
She claimed that the committee instructed her orally not to disclose the proceedings of the committee to the media and “not share the proceedings with her lawyer Vrinda Grover.”
The committee was formed after the woman levelled allegations against the Chief Justice reportedly in a letter to 22 judges of the Supreme Court.
Ordering an investigation into the alleged conspiracy against the CJI, the Supreme Court on Thursday appointed retired judge AK Patnaik to head the inquiry to probe lawyer Utsav Bains’ allegations.
Utsav Bains had alleged a conspiracy against the Chief Justice after a former Supreme Court staffer alleged sexual harassment.
As it heard for the third time the matter related to allegations of sexual harassment against CJI, the Supreme Court observed that some rich and powerful people want to control its functioning.
Earlier last week, Bains submitted the proof before the court and said, “I have a CCTV footage, which is real evidence. I am submitting this in court. The accused and the mastermind is very powerful”.
In an earlier affidavit, Bains had claimed that he was offered Rs 1.5 crore to represent the former apex court woman employee who levelled the allegation against the CJI.
Bains also said that he was asked to arrange a presser against the CJI at the Press Club of India in New Delhi. He said that he had found loopholes in the case.
CJI Gogoi has been accused of sexual assault by a former officer who worked as a junior assistant at the Supreme Court between May 2014 and December 2018.
(With inputs from IANS)