More important, while the SC has divided the inquiry into two parts, the sexual harassment charges and the larger conspiracy—an advocate has added to the mix by alleging he was sought to be bribed to push the sexual harassment charges—there is a third part that also needs to be examined.
After initially reacting to the sexual harassment charges against him by saying this was part of a conspiracy to hobble him, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi did well to allow the Supreme Court (SC) to appoint former apex court judge AK Patnaik to examine the conspiracy angle while an internal panel examined the other allegations. And when Justice Patnaik said, to the press, that he would probe the conspiracy angle—with the help of Delhi Police, IB and CBI—only after the sexual harassment charges were dealt with, this strengthened the impression that the complainant would get a fair hearing first.
But with the complainant walking out of the SC inquiry while saying she was not getting a fair shot, the process has suffered a big setback. For one, she says she is not being allowed to have her lawyer with her, the committee isn’t quite a Vishakha one since there is no external member, she hasn’t even been given a written copy of her statement, there has been no audio/video recording of the proceedings, etc; she even says that when the told the committee she would not be able to participate till her concerns were dealt with, she was told the committee would proceed ex parte.
If the charges made are correct, this is unfortunate, and the SC has to find ways to ensure there is a full hearing of the charges; certainly the inquiry has to have external members and all evidence properly recorded. More important, while the SC has divided the inquiry into two parts, the sexual harassment charges and the larger conspiracy—an advocate has added to the mix by alleging he was sought to be bribed to push the sexual harassment charges—there is a third part that also needs to be examined.
The complainant has alleged that, after the incident, she was transferred thrice in a matter of weeks, a disciplinary enquiry was initiated against her on various grounds and, when she was admitted to hospital just before it began, ex parte proceedings were carried out and she was dismissed from service. Her husband and brother-in-law were suspended from the Delhi police and she was even arrested based on a complaint that she had been paid `50,000 to help someone get a job in the SC. It is possible that all of this has been made up, but if justice has to not only be done, but been seen to be done, these charges need to be investigated as well.