Meet lawyer Utsav Bains, who claims CJI didn't harass anyone
After Supreme Court was rocked by sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, claims of a lawyer made the case murkier. Utsav Bains, a lawyer of the top court, claimed the allegations are fabricated to force CJI Gogoi to resign. He filed an affidavit in SC and a special bench is hearing it. But who is Bains? Let's find out.
Last weekend, a former SC employee sent an affidavit to 22 judges claiming CJI Gogoi sexually harassed her at his home office in October last year. After she turned down his advances, the complainant was transferred thrice and finally she lost her job in December 2018, she wrote. Not just this, but she claimed her family was harassed too, leading her to speak up.
After allegations saw the light of the day, CJI Gogoi blatantly dismissed them. He said the woman had criminal cases against her and maintained the independence of the judiciary was under threat. Bains' Facebook post, in which he claimed he was offered Rs. 1.5 crore to frame CJI Gogoi, added a new twist to the tale. Filing the affidavit is my duty, Bains wrote.
32-year-old Bains is the son of human rights lawyer RS Bains and grandson of Ajit Singh Bains, the former judge of Punjab and Haryana high court. After graduating from Panjab University, Bains practised for a short time in the HC. He has been in Delhi for the last two years. Most notably, he has been representing witnesses of sexual-assault cases against Asaram.
In 2012, Bains filed a plea seeking probe into sexual abuse of minors housed at a shelter home in Haryana's Rohtak. The case was finally investigated by CBI. Due to this case, Bains came close to Harsh Mander, who was a former member of National Security Council (NSC), which was headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. He also made a documentary on child rights.
The young lawyer has also attended a program at Harvard Law School on child rights advocacy. People who know Bains describe him as someone who holds his ground and doesn't succumb to pressure. An example of this attitude was seen in SC on Wednesday when Bains was ready to leave the court after Justice RF Nariman reprimanded him for questioning Attorney General KK Venugopal.
On Wednesday, Bains was summoned in court to provide evidence to support his claim. During the proceedings, he had a verbal altercation with AG Venugopal. On this, Justice Nariman said, "If you don't (respect the AG), not even an iota of doubt, we will throw you out immediately. He is the senior-most member of the Bar." Bains then offered to leave the court himself.
"I respect the AG. I was only responding to personal attacks. Since Justice Nariman has decided to throw me out, I will walk out myself. I am deeply hurt," Bains said. Subsequently, Justice Arun Mishra stepped up to cool tempers inside the courtroom.