On December 24, 2012, when A K Ganguly, retired Supreme Court judge and chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC), is alleged to have sexually harassed his law intern, he had sought her help in a private arbitration matter that he was handling. This is one of the two other “charges” listed against him by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“(Ganguly) has severely damaged the office of chairman of WB Human Rights Commission by a series of alleged misdemeanours... He engaged himself in paid employment during his term of high office... When the alleged incident took place, Ganguly was on a visit to Delhi for an inquiry of the All India Football Federation and he presided over the arbitration... It is widely known in relevant circles that he presided over arbitration proceedings for a payment,” Banerjee has said in a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee.
The letter, sent some days ago, also mentioned that Ganguly’s visit to Pakistan in June was sponsored by a Delhi-based NGO without the government’s permission.
“Secondly, Justice Ganguly visited Pakistan from June 3, 2013 to June 6, 2013 without taking leave, thus violating rule 6 of the WBHRC... air tickets for the trip were provided by a private organisation in Delhi, the Socio Legal Information Centre,” said Banerjee in the letter.
Sources said Banerjee’s allegations, which have since been referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) by the President’s Secretariat, form part of the government’s case for a presidential reference to remove Ganguly from the post. Ganguly was appointed WBHRC chairman in April 2012.
The MHA had sought the opinion of Attorney General G E Vahanvati on the issue. According to sources, Vahanvati, in his opinion, has “taken cognizance” of these two additional “charges’’ mentioned by Banerjee.
This is not the first time that the West Bengal government has raised the issue of Ganguly’s visit to Pakistan. Ganguly had earlier said that since it was a personal visit, he did not require the government’s permission.
When contacted, senior advocate and activist Colin Gonsalves, who founded the Socio Legal Information Centre, said: “He was invited as a retired Supreme Court Judge to speak on public interest litigation at a seminar in Pakistan. Yes, we provided the air tickets. He later told me he was not required to seek any permission for the trip.’’