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Hectic parleys among judges over sexual harassment allegations against CJI

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Hit hard by the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, hectic parleys are on among Supreme Court judges to bring the judiciary out of the crisis.

Reliable sources in the apex court said senior judges discussed the issue late last evening and Tuesday morning.

They also pointed to the fact that the first five courts had a delayed start of judicial proceedings.

Sources said views of three women judges have also been taken and some sections of employees of the apex court are also deliberating the issue.

An official of the apex court said however that much should not be read into the delayed proceedings as court number 4 was hearing the same matter relating to the CJI in a different combination and one of the judges was originally part of the bench headed by him.

He was referring to the special bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta who were hearing the matter of sexual harassment as an advocate claimed a larger conspiracy to frame the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment.

The official said the bench sat according to its convenience as not only Justices Mishra and Nariman, number four and five in seniority, were sitting together but Justice Gupta had to return to the bench headed by the CJI.

However, when judicial proceedings in first five courts of the Supreme Court, which are presided over by five senior-most judges including the CJI, could not begin till 12.05 PM on Tuesday, it gave rise to speculations that the judges were deliberating upon emergent situations in the wake of allegations against the CJI.

Sources said that hectic parleys among the judges of the apex court had taken place on Monday evening after reports had started appearing that two prominent lawyers' bodies of the apex court were critical of the CJI's becoming the judge of his own cause.

It was on the advise of some senior judges, the CJI constituted a new bench which was made public late last evening for holding special hearing on Tuesday.

Further, sources said there was no official announcement about the outcome of the deliberations among the judges and what appeared in media were only based on speculations.

Around 11 AM the apex court's display board flashed the message that first five courts, presided by senior-most judges, would assemble at 11.30 AM.

This also did not happen and finally the courts started judicial functions after 12.00.

Sources said that the CJI held deliberations with the senior judges over the developments that took place in last two days, particularly in view of two lawyers' associations of the Supreme Court questioning the unprecedented hearing of the apex court bench headed by the CJI that too on a Saturday.

As per the sources, today's deliberations involving senior most judges assumed significance as it has taken place after various bar bodies including the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) criticised the unprecedented hearing by a three-judge bench headed by the CJI on a Saturday following the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI himself.

While the SCBA termed the hearing as "violation of procedure established by law", SCAORA said, it "strongly disapproves the manner in which the complaint was dealt with and seeks enquiry and action in the above matter and further seeks immediate appointment of a committee headed by full court of the Supreme Court to impartially investigate and inquire into the allegations made against the CJI, and give independent finding into the matter."

On Monday as well, all 15 Supreme Court benches commenced judicial proceedings at 10:45am, 15 minutes after the usual time.

Attempts to reach out to the CJI's office did not fructify and an official attached to the CJI's office offered "no comments" on developments.

A three-judge bench headed by CJI on Saturday had held an unprecedented hearing in the wake of allegations made against the CJI.

Describing the allegations of sexual harassment against him as "unbelievable", the CJI had convened an extraordinary hearing at the Supreme Court during which he said a larger conspiracy was behind it and he would not stoop too low even to deny these allegations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 23 2019. 20:50 IST
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