Thursday, December 05, 2013

India’s top court indicts former judge in sexual harassment case

Retired Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly (Pic: Supreme Court of India)
NEW DELHI (AA) - India’s top court has indicted its retired judge AK Ganguly in a case of sexually harassing a law intern who interned with him in 2012.
The three-member Supreme Court committee, which investigated the allegation of sexual harassment, said that they found evidence of “unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.”
However, P Sathasivam, the Chief Justice of India, said the committee decided that “no further follow-up action is required” because the woman’s internship with Justice Ganguly was a private placement and he had retired from Supreme Court by the time charges against him were levelled.
AK Ganguly currently serves as chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, a state rights body. He has refused to quit the post amid calls by lawyers and activists for his resignation after Supreme Court indicted him.
The case came to light last month when the alleged victim, the law graduate wrote a blog accusing the judge (without naming him) of sexually harassing her while she interned with him in 2012.
In her blog, she wrote, “In Delhi at that time, interning during the winter vacations of my final year in the University, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highly reputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester.”
“For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather,” she alleged.
The Supreme Court had formed a three-member committee to investigate the charges. The intern appeared before the committee to record her statement, requesting that the committee to maintain the confidentiality of her testimony. Ganguly’s statement was also recorded by the inquiry panel before submitting its report on November 29, in which the name of the judge was revealed. 
Ganguly had dismissed the sexual harassment charge.
“I deny all the charges,” Ganguly had told an English private news channel.
“She came to my house on a number of occasions. The intern is like a child to me. The intern has worked with me, but she has never raised the issue with me,” he had said.
The inquiry into Justice Ganguly began only days before a top journalist Tarun Tejpal was accused of raping a junior colleague during a high-profile media event in coastal state of Goa between November 7-8. Tejpal remains in police custody after a court rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

The two cases have sparked a national debate over men in positions of power violating women in the workplace.

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