Thursday, December 1, 2022

Supreme Court closes suo motu case on larger conspiracy behind sexual harassment allegations against former CJI Ranjan Gogoi

Soon after the controversy erupted in April 2019, the office of the Supreme Court Secretary-General had denied the charges calling absolutely false and scurrilous.

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The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the suo motu probe initiated by it on allegations of sexual harassment against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. (In Re Matter of great Public importance touching upon independence of Judiciary- mentioned by Solicitor Geneal Tushar Mehta).

The top court had registered the suo motu case back in 2019 to examine the alleged conspiracy against the judiciary after the allegations of sexual harassment against Gogoi became public.

A three-judge bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “We observe that 2 years have passed and the possibility of recovery of electronic record is unlikely. A three-member sub-committee has already submitted its record. Suo motu case is closed and proceedings disposed of. There is no requirement to keep the case going on.”

The Court noted,

“The inquiry report of Justice A.K. Patnaik has been placed on record. On perusal, we find that it is very comprehensive. We have to keep in mind that the committee was not to inquire into the merits of the case. This aspect has been seen in the report itself. The judge has examined only the points put forth by Mr. Bains. It is not possible to find collaborative evidence qua the affidavit filed by Mr. Bains.”

“The existence of conspiracy cannot be completely ruled out as Justice Patnaik has not been able to access electronic records. The learned judge has opined in final paragraph that the report of the Director of Intelligence Bureau says that on account of taking serious decisions in National Register of Citizens (NRC) may have triggered the conspiracy. However, in view of the mandate, the report opines that it cannot really inquire into whether the Chief Justices decision on judicial side has triggered the conspiracy,”

said the bench also comprising of Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian.

The Supreme Court in April 2019 had constituted a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Patnaik to probe into the details contained in the affidavit filed by advocate Utsav Bains alleging a larger conspiracy to frame former CJI Ranjan Gogoi on allegations of sexual harassment.

Also Read: Supreme Court refuses to quash criminal case against Shillong Times editor Patricia Mukhim

The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had also directed the CBI Director, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Commissioner to assist Justice Patnaik in the probe.

The bench had said the inquiry will be totally separate to the in-house inquiry set up to look into the then CJI’s alleged misbehaviour.

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