New Delhi, Apr 23, 2019 : Allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will be heard by the Supreme Court today. Chief Justice Gogoi on Saturday strongly denied the allegations of a former Supreme Court employee and said the independence of the judiciary is "under threat" and it "cannot be made a scapegoat", NDTV reported.
A special bench of the Supreme Court called an emergency hearing on Saturday after the former employee, in an affidavit to several Supreme Court judges, alleged she was sexually harassed by the chief justice.
"This is unbelievable. I don’t think I should stoop low even to deny these allegations," the Chief Justice, who was heading the three judge bench, said in the hearing, and added he will not pass any orders and the senior most judge Arun Mishra will dictate the order.
On Monday, a lawyer filed an affidavit claiming there was a conspiracy to frame the Chief Justice in a "false case of sexual harassment" that would force him to resign.
All the other 26 judges of the top court have rallied behind the Chief Justice, sources say. The judges discussed the allegations yesterday during an informal meeting over morning tea, a convention of the top court. Several judges reportedly spoke of how the judiciary is being intimidated.
In the special hearing, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi alleged a conspiracy behind the allegations and said, "There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate office of Chief Justice".
The Chief Justice said the allegations had cropped up as he is scheduled to hear important cases in the Supreme Court. "I will sit on this chair and discharge my judicial functions without any fear... Things have gone too far," he said.
Chief Justice Gogoi said since there can be no corruption allegations against him, "people have to find something and they have found this".
He said the woman who made the allegations against him has a criminal background and faces two police cases.
The government’s lawyer, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said the allegations appear to be blackmail.
The special bench of Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjeev Khanna refrained from passing any judicial order "at this stage" and said they "leave it to the discretion of the media to exercise restraint and act responsibly."
"Faith of people in judiciary will be shaken by such unscrupulous allegations," Justice Mishra said.
Two associations of the top court - the Supreme Court Bar association and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association - said Saturday’s hearing on the allegations of sexual harassment violated the "procedure and principles of natural justice". The associations say they want the full court to decide on a further course of action.
The Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Association, a union of the top court staff, has condemned the allegations in a resolution and said these are aimed at maligning the institution.