CJI takes note of letter by woman judge seeking ‘permission to end life’ in absence of relief against sexual harassment by district judge

In a case that might be symptomatic of the depth to which the rot of sexual harassment and abuse runs in the system, a judge says it was naive of her to think she will impart justice when she has been made a beggar for justice herself.

HOURS after a letter written by a woman judge in Uttar Pradesh addressed to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) surfaced on social media, the CJI Dr D.Y. Chandrachud took note of the letter and called for a report from the Allahabad High Court.

In the emotionally charged letter, the judge alleges inaction over her complaint of sexual harassment against a district judge.

It is learnt that the secretary general of the Supreme Court Atul M. Kurhekar has sent a missive to the Allahabad High Court registrar general seeking a status report on the matter.

In her letter, the woman judge, who is posted in the Banda district, had asked for permission from the CJI to “end her life”, following the “abuse” and “harassment” she faced on the part of a district judge.

The letter reads, “I joined the judicial service with much enthusiasm and in the belief that I would dispense justice to the common folk. What did I know is that I will be soon rendered a beggar for justice on every door that I go to.

In the short time of my service, I have had the rare honour of being abused (the dreaded Hindi mother curse word) on dias in open court. I have been sexually harassed to the very limit. I have been treated like utter garbage.

I feel like an unwanted insect. And I hoped to provide justice to others. What naive me! I wish to tell all the working women in India: Learn to live with sexual harassment. It is the truth of our lives.”

Expressing her despair, the judge wrote: “No one listens, no one bothers. If you complain, you will be tortured. Be submissive. And, when I mean no one listens, that includes the Supreme Court. You will get eight seconds of hearing, an insult and a threat to impose costs.

You will be pushed to commit suicide. And if you are lucky (unlike me), your first attempt at suicide will be successful. If any of the women think that you will fight against the system, let me tell you, I couldn’t.”

The letter also alleges that the district judge had asked the victim to meet him at night. She alleged that a complaint had been lodged with the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in 2022 but no action was taken. Later, she filed a complaint with the Internal Complaints Committee of the High Court in July 2023.

The letter came to light after the Supreme Court on December 13 dismissed her petition observing: “Since the Internal Complaints Committee is already in seisin of the matter and a resolution is already passed which is pending approval of the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, we see no reason to entertain this writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.”

Senior advocate Indira Jaising took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to react to the letter. She said: “A system which cannot give justice to its own, how can it give justice to others?”

The Leaflet