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24th April, 2019
To
The Judges of the Supreme Court of India,
New Delhi

CJI Sexual Harassment case: Seeking a fair and impartial enquiry in accordance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013

We, lawyers, scholars and members of women’s groups and civil society are shocked at reading the contents of the complaint of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation suffered by a former employee of the Supreme Court of India.  An affidavit was submitted by the aggrieved woman to the 22 judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court detailing the sexual harassment faced by her from none less than the Chief Justice of India. The 29 pages-long affidavit explained how she was posted in the office of the Chief Justice, systematically pursued at her home and office through calls and messages, encouraged initially with compliments, favours and excessive attention, finally followed by sexual advances. The administrative persecution both by way of termination of employment, and registration of criminal cases against her and her family members came upon her when she rejected the sexual advances made by the Chief Justice.

While the allegations listed in the affidavit are shocking, equally worrisome was the response of the Chief Justice: apart from denying the charges, he constituted a Special Bench along with two other Judges at 10.30 am to hear a matter of “great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary”. In short, he constituted a Bench to hear his own case! Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who were part of the specially constituted Bench, noted that they will not pass an Order, but nevertheless did so.  Referring to the allegations as “wild and scandalous”, they went on to say that such allegations negate the independence of the Judiciary. They also counseled the media to observe restraint. Strangely, the Order did not name the presence of the Chief Justice at whose instance the Special Bench was convened.  Further, there was nothing in the Order which indicated that the Judges passed this Order based upon any investigation by a competent authority.  

We are both shocked and saddened that the Chief Justice of India as well as the Special Bench have responded as most men, in public office or in positions of authority and power do, when accused of sexual misconduct. Denial of the allegations, maligning the complainant, citing past histories, imputing ulterior motives to the complainant are familiar and regular devices deployed by accused men. Equally common is the undertaking of vindictive measures including administrative harassment and suits of defamation against complainants. 

Not only have the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court of India not set an example by their behavior, but they appear to have moved a step ahead to delegitimize women’s complaints of sexual harassment – they have declared that the allegation is itself an attempt to tarnish the independence of the Judiciary. This is both indefensible and appalling. We fail to see what this has to do with the independence of the Judiciary, which we wish to uphold as conscientious citizens, but this ought not to be interpreted to mean immunity from investigation when allegations are made.

The Bar Council of India has rubbished the complaint as an attempt to malign the Judiciary and termed it politically motivated. In the absence of a duly conducted investigation or enquiry, we are puzzled about how the BCI, lawyers and judges are concluding with such haste that the complaint is false, baseless and motivated.     

On 24th April it has been reported that, Justice Bobde, the next senior most judge from Supreme court has been asked by the CJI to appoint a committee which will enquire into the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI.

Justice Bobde has appointed a committee with himself as chair and Justice N V Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee as members. The constitution of this committee with no external member is in complete violation of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013.

Media reports that this committee will start hearing on Friday 26th April 2019 and that it has no fixed time frame in which to finish the proceedings, will follow an in house procedure and will not allow legal representation to either parties. While the Mr Ranjan Gogoi may not need legal representation, this is tilting the balance against the complainant, again violating the spirit of the Vishakha judgement and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act 2013.

In the given circumstances, keeping in mind the magnitude of the complaint we demand:

  1. A Special Enquiry Committee consisting of credible individuals  be constituted to conduct a thorough enquiry at the earliest and create an atmosphere of transparency and confidence for the complainant to depose.
  2. The Special Enquiry Committee should follow the norms of the IC and accordingly conduct its enquiry.
  3. The Chief Justice of India should refrain from transacting official duties and responsibilities until the completion of the enquiry. 
  4. The Complainant should be allowed legal assistance from lawyer of her choice.
  5. The enquiry should be completed within 90 days as stated in the law.

It is these measures which will uphold the dignity and independence of the Judiciary and more particularly, restore the faith of all women, indeed all citizens of the country, in the Judiciary.

Signed by:

  1. Rama Melkote, Prof.(Retd) Osmania University
  2. Amita Dhanda, Professor, Nalsar, Hyderabad
  3. S Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum
  4. Flavia Agnes, Advocate
  5. Labia, A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai
  6. Chayanika Shah, FAOW
  7. V.Geetha, Writer, Chennai
  8. Vasudha Nagaraj, Advocate
  9. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, HBSE, Mumbai
  10. Veena Gowda, Advocate
  11. N. Vasanti, Professor of Constitutional Law, Nalsar, Hyderabad
  12. Mary E John, New Delhi
  13. Veena Shatrugna, Former Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition
  14. Uma Chakravarti, Historian
  15. Sandhya Gokhale, Mumbai
  16. Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
  17. Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai
  18. B. Girija, State Project Manager, Sakhi Telangana
  19. Kabi Sherman, Mumbai
  20. Meena Gopalan, Mumbai
  21. Hasina Khan, Mumbai
  22. Shals Mahajan, Mumbai
  23. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara
  24. Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
  25. A. Suneetha, Anveshi Research Center for Women’s Studies
  26. Susie Tharu, Prof.(Retd) EFL University
  27. K Sudha, Assistant Professor, DSNLU, Member, Human Rights Forum
  28. K Anuradha, Human Rights Forum
  29. Janaki Nair, JNU
  30. Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Study
  31. Sukla Sen, Mumbai
  32. Kamayani Mahabal, Mumbai
  33. Lara Jessani, Advocate, Mumbai
  34. Dr J Vijayalakshmi, Advocate
  35. Archana Pydah, Advocate
  36. K. Kiran Mayee, Advocate
  37. V. Naga Lakshmi, Advocate
  38. Sneha Bhogle, Advocate
  39. M. Mandakini, Advocate
  40. Mohammed Shakeel, Advocate
  41. Sherin. B.S, EFL University, Hyderabad
  42. Ranjana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Bhubaneswar
  43. Kalpana Karunakaran, IIT Madras
  44. B. Girija,
  45. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai
  46. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Kochi
  47. Prema Revati, Educationist
  48. Rachana Mudraboyina, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti
  49. Karuna, Researcher, Chennai
  50. Dr Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Hyderabad
  51. Saheli, Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi
  52. Vasudha Katju, Researcher, New Delhi
  53. K. Satyavati, Bhumika, Hyderabad
  54. Aisha Farooqui, Prof. (Retd) Osmania University
  55. Swathy Margaret, Researcher
  56. S.  Ashalatha, Social Activist
  57. Sajaya. K, Caring Citizens Collective
  58. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti
  59. Asma Rasheed, EFL University, Hyderabad
  60. Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism
  61. Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University, Hyderabad
  62. Radhika Khajuria, New Delhi
  63. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
  64. Yenna Deepa Sai, Advocate
  65.  Ketki Ranade, Mumbai
  66. Asha Achuthan, Mumbai
  67. Vineeta Bal, Pune.
  68. Anjali Rawat, Law Researcher
  69. Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, Mumbai
  70. Madhu Bhushan
  71. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice, Himachal Pradesh
  72. Pragnya Joshi, PUCL, Udaipur
  73. Dr. Albertina Almeida, Advocate, Goa.
  74. Vennela Madabhushi, Lawyer, Bangalore
  75. Harini Karnamadakala, Content Writer
  76. Nari Samata Manch
  77. Anuradha Pati, Development Professional
  78. Soma KP, Independent Research Scholar
  79. Lata Singh, JNU
  80. Urmilla Chandran, Principal Technical Writer
  81. Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women’s Support Alliance
  82. Nari Samata Manch, Pune
  83. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland
  84. Kaneez Fatima, Activist and Librarian
  85. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships
  86. Masooma Ranalvi, We SpeakOut
  87. Srinivas Vellikad, Senior Manager, Documentation.
  88. S. Seethalakshmi, Researcher
  89. Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, Mumbai
  90. Sunkara Rajendra Prasad, Advocate, Vijayawada
  91. Supriya Jan, CORO India
  92. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM
  93. Vahida Nainar, Mumbai
  94. Karuna DW, Chennai
  95. Sumi Krishna, Independent Scholar, Bangalore
  96. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  97. Meena Seshu, Sangram
  98. Jayasree.A K., Professor, Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Kannur, Kerala
  99. Shaitan Singh, Law Student, Visakhapatnam
  100. Anjana Ramanathan, Advocate
  101. Piyoli Swatija, Advocate
  102. VS Krishna, Human Rights Forum
  103. Smita Gupta, New Delhi
  104. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland
  105. Saheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi
  106. Geeta Seshu, Journalist
  107. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy
  108. Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University
  109. Ritu Dewan, Vice President at Indian Society of Labour Economics
  110. Sarojini.N, New Delhi
  111. Brinelle D’souza, TISS
  112. Deeptha Achar, Professor, Baroda
  113. Shilpaa Anand, BITS- Pilani, Hyderabad campus
  114. Shefali Jha, University of Hyderabad
  115. M. Madhavi, Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Bangalore
  116. Kumar Shubham Raj, Advocate, Bihar
  117. Vedula Chitralekha, Advocate
  118. Bushra Quasmi, Asst Prof, DSNLU, Visakhapatnam
  119. Madhumeeta Sinha, EFL University
  120. B Syama Sundari, Dastakar Andhra
  121. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori
  122. Ambika Tandon, New Delhi
  123. Anandhi.S, Researcher, Chennai
  124. Dr. M. Ajay, Dermatologist
  125. Sumitra, Ankuram
  126. Shalini Gera, Advocate, Bilaspur High Court
  127. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Telangana
  128. Smita Gupta, New Delhi
  129. Govind Kelkar, Senior Advisor – Women, Land & Productive Assets
  130. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT, Bangalore
  131. P V Srividya, Journalist, Krishnagiri
  132. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, HBSCE, Mumbai
  133. K. Katyayani, Prof (Retd), Kakatitya University, Warangal
  134. Deepa V health Activist, Delhi
  135. Sunita Sheel, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai; Vidhayak Trust, Pune
  136. Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata
  137. Veena Johari, Advocate, Mumbai
  138. Mumtaz Sheikh, CORO Mahila Mandal federation Mumbai
  139. Rohini Hensman, Writer & Researcher
  140. Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist
  141. Tashi Choedup, Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist
  142. Poushali Basak, Mumbai
  143. Aditi Joshi, Mumbai
  144. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai
  145. Kaveri Dadhich, Mumbai
  146. Padma, Independent Researcher , Mumbai
  147. Abhay. S
  148. Cleophas. B
  149. Leena. M
  150. Sonakshi.K
  151. Loshua. S
  152. Anurita.P
  153. Hitesh. F
  154. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Ooty
  155. R. Alphonso, Mumbai
  156. Neha Singh, Mumbai
  157. Shewli Kumar, Mumbai
  158. Bharati Kapadia, Mumbai
  159. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Mumbai
  160. Bharathi. G
  161. Catrinel Dunca, Ahmedabad
  162. Sudhanva. V
  163. Nirja Vasavada, Ahmedabad
  164. Shumona Goel
  165. Mani A., Kolkata
  166. Kamaxi Bhate, Mumbai
  167. Ariane. B
  168. Mehernosh. B
  169. Dhruvika. J
  170. Haresh. T
  171. Rajeev. C
  172. Mridul Dudeja, Mumbai
  173. Persis. S
  174. Pallavi. G
  175. Chandanathil. G
  176. Lavanya.J
  177. Pratishtha. P
  178. Satjot. L
  179. Margaret. G
  180. Jogitha. J
  181. Ajit. P
  182. Eshvendar. R
  183. Aapyayani. K
  184. Kavinder. R
  185. Doris. L
  186. Moruni. M
  187. Kavya. S
  188. Jayaram. N
  189. Ekta. S
  190. Samir. P
  191. Nandini Rao, Activist, New Delhi
  192. Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, New Delhi
  193. Gayatri, Faculty, TISS, Hyderabad
  194. Abhiti Gupta, Legal Activist, New Delhi
  195. Maneka Khanna, Advocate, Delhi
  196. Surabhi Dhar, Advocate, Delhi
  197. Zeba Sikora, Advocate, Mumbai
  198. Rupali Samuel, Advocate, Delhi
  199. Payoshi Roy, Advocate, Mumbai
  200. Archit Krishna, Advocate, Chattisgarh
  201. Satnam Kaur
  202. Reethika Ravikumar
  203. Mini Mathew, Advocate
  204. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi
  205. Fatima N, Tamil Nadu
  206. V Rukmini Rao, Hyderabad, Telangana
  207. Poorva Rajaram, Researcher, New Delhi
  208. Vanessa Chishti, Jindal Law University, Sonipat
  209. Esther Moraes, New Delhi
  210. Niti Saxena, Lucknow
  211. Tusharika Mattoo, Advocate, Delhi
  212. Maulshree Pathak, Advocate Delhi 
  213. Shreya munoth, Advocate, Delhi
  214. Sayali Kadu, Advocate, Delhi
  215. Shuchi Dwivedi, Advocate, Delhi
  216. Rhea Goyal, Advocate, Delhi 
  217. Sowjhanya Shankaran, Advocate, Delhi
  218. Anushree Malviya, Advocate, Delhi
  219. Sonal Sarda, Advocate, Delhi
  220. Sanya Kumar, Advocate, Delhi
  221. Shreya Rastogi, Advocate, Delhi 
  222. Harshita Reddy, Advocate, Delhi
  223. Sanjana Srikumar, Advocate, Delhi
  224. Avantika, Advocate Delhi 
  225. Ninni Susan Thomas, Advocate Delhi
  226. Nidhi Rao Gummuluru, Advocate, Delhi
  227. Vasundhara Majithia, Advocate Delhi
  228. Meghana Sengupta, Advocate Delhi 
  229. Shailiza Sharma, Advocate, Delhi High Court 
  230. Kanika Sood, Advocate Delhi
  231. Kruti Venkatesh, Advocate, Bombay High Court 
  232. Bhavana Sunder, Advocate, Bombay High Court
  233. Rhea Jha, Advocate, Bombay High Court
  234. Devyani Kulkarni, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
  235. Khusboo Agarwal, Bombay
  236. Sara Ahmed, Bombay
  237. Surabhi Singh, Advocate, High Court at Bombay
  238. Ronita Bhattacharya, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
  239. Jahnavi Vishwanath, Chennai
  240. Janaki Abraham, Delhi University 
  241. Dimple Oberoi Vahali
  242. Vandana Mahajan, A Feminist Practitioner
  243. Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Citizen, Alibag, Maharashtra
  244. Bebaak Collective
  245. Chitra Sinha, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
  246. Sana Contractor, Public Health Researcher, New Delhi
  247. Vasudha Sawaiker, Social Justice Action Committee, Goa
  248. Amita Kanekar, Writer, Goa
  249. Adsa Fatima, Health Activist, Delhi
  250. Dr Mira Shiva 
  251. Dr. Saswati Ghosh, Academic and Activist, Kolkata
  252. Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health and Gender Justice, Mumbai
  253. Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court
  254. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
  255. Bindhulakshmi, Mumbai
  256. Kiran Shaheen
  257. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad
  258. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai
  259. Purnima Gupta, New Delhi
  260. Japleen Pasricha, FII

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