[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE former Supreme Court employee, who accused Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, has expressed reservations regarding the enquiry panel constituted to probe her allegations.
Responding to the court’s notice requesting her presence before the committee comprising Justices SA Bobde, NV Ramana and Indira Banerjee on Friday, April 26, 2019, the 35-year-old complainant in a letter to the committee and Secretary General of the Supreme Court, has expressed her “fear and apprehensions” over the in-house enquiry committee.
She said her character was damaged even before the enquiry could start after the CJI convened a special hearing on Saturday when he referred to her complaint as a “bigger plot” against him.
Referring to news reports on the special sitting of the bench, she said: “I was frightened and felt helpless that without anyone hearing me, my complaint had been declared to be false by Hon’ble judges and senior law officers.”
Commenting on the remarks made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his blog on Sunday, where he had defended the CJI, the complainant further noted, “The next day (Sunday), the blog by a senior Cabinet minister also condemned me. Because of these events I am very scared and feeling isolated and depressed.”
Referring to another news report, she further claimed that she got to know from the news on April 20 that Justice Ramana, while speaking in Hyderabad at the centenary celebrations of the High Court building, had said in reference to her case: “We have seen such attempts in the past and we will see more in future. Some friends in their private conversations are pointing out that criticism used to be against politicians only. But today, judges are also under attack. Do not be wary of such criticism as we have to uphold the dignity of the judiciary.”
She objected to the inclusion of Justice NV Ramana in the in-house committee, describing him as a “close friend of the CJI and … like a family member to him”.
“Honourable Justice Ramana is a frequent visitor to the residence of the CJI. Because of this I fear that my affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing,” the complainant said in her four-page response.
“I am only asking that your Lordships consider my fears and apprehensions at the time of my hearing…I have suffered a lot and I am hopeful that my suffering and torture of my family will come to an end soon… I am aware that I hold no position or status and have only truth on my side to place before your Lordships. I will only be ensured justice if I am provided a fair, independent impartial and just hearing,” she added.
While requesting the committee that she be allowed to have a lawyer of her own choice while appearing before the committee, she said that the enquiry should be conducted along the lines of the Vishaka Guidelines laid down by the Apex Court, which mandates that the committee should have a majority of women members and an external woman member to “ensure fairness and impartiality.”
“I am capable of presenting facts and evidence, but I do not have any training or practical experience of law and procedure…I would need to be accompanied and assisted by a lawyer and support person of my choice. Which I believe is my basic right.”
She has also stressed that the “entire proceedings be video recorded…and a copy of the same be given to me so that there can be no dispute about what transpired.”
Pertinently, Delhi Police Crime Branch had filed a fresh case of criminal intimidation and cheating against the complainant on April 24, 2019 demanding that her bail application be rejected on grounds that she violated the bail terms and was now threatening witnesses.