Written byShalini Ojha ·
Justice NV Ramana, the third senior-most judge in Supreme Court, recused himself from the panel formed to investigate sexual harassment allegations leveled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The three-member panel, headed by Justice SA Bobde was formed on Tuesday, for a departmental inquiry.
Justice Indira Banerjee was also included in the panel to ensure woman representation.
Here's what happened.
Justice Ramana has reportedly written to SC registry to inform about his decision. This development came after the complainant raised questions on his appointment in the panel.
The former SC employee, who claimed CJI Gogoi sexually harassed her at his home office in October 2018, said Justice Ramana and the top judge are close.
Justice Ramana frequented his house too, she pointed out.
After the panel was formed, the woman was sent a notice. In her reply, she said she appreciated that a committee has been formed, but raised serious questions.
The complainant highlighted that Justice Ramana dismissed her story by saying "judges were under attack".
She underscored that under Vishaka guidelines, the panel should have a majority of women and a woman should lead it.
Referring to CJI Gogoi's initial response, the alleged victim said her character was smeared without any reason.
To recall, CJI Gogoi while dismissing the allegations had hinted at a larger conspiracy and said the woman faces criminal charges.
"I was frightened and felt helpless that without anyone hearing me, my complaint had been declared to be false," she wrote in her reply.
"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," her reply read.
After an insensitive response to the allegations (CJI Gogoi headed a bench in which he dismissed them), SC formed the panel.
Justice Bobde revealed it was CJI Gogoi who asked him to head the panel.
"I picked Justice Ramana because he is next to me in seniority and Justice Banerjee because she is a woman judge," Justice Bobde said earlier this week.
When the allegations surfaced, SC lawyer Utsav Bains contended that they were part of a bigger conspiracy to force CJI Gogoi to resign. Bains submitted an affidavit regarding the same.
On Thursday, an SC bench ordered a probe into Bains' theories. Retired judge Justice AK Patnaik will look into the claims which aren't linked to harassment allegations, the bench underlined.
"The day has come when we have to rise and tell the powerful and rich people - you can't run the institution. Whenever big persons are involved these things are happening," said bench of Justice Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, and Deepak Gupta.
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