|File photo of AK Ganguly (Pic: Supreme Court of India)|
Thursday, January 02, 2014
Federal cabinet clears Presidential reference to SC to remove Ganguly
NEW DELHI (AA) - India’s federal cabinet on Thursday cleared the Presidential reference proposed by federal home ministry on retired Supreme Court judge and current chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) A.K. Ganguly accused of sexually harassing a law intern in 2012.
/’’The cabinet’s reference to President Pranab Mukherjee clears the way for Ganguly’s removal as head of the state human rights commission which he has refused to quit despite calls by lawyers and activists for his resignation even after he was indicted by country’s top court in the sexual harassment case.
The Indian President can remove the former Supreme Court judge only on the advice of federal cabinet. Mukherjee is likely to ask the CJI (Chief Justice of India) to initiate probe into the issues raised in the Presidential reference.
India’s Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising welcomed the cabinet decision saying the due process of law has been set in motion.
“Judges who want others to follow law should also follow it,”Jaising told a private news channel.
“Women's rights are human rights,” she said.
Earlier, Justice Ganguly told Press Trust of India that he has not yet decided to quit WBHRC, a state rights body.
“I don’t want to comment now. I need some time to decide. Please give me some time. Later on, I will let you know,” Ganguly said.
Calls for Ganguly’s resignation gained momentum after a three judge Supreme Court panel indicted the retired judge on December 5 over allegations of sexually harassing a 28-year old law intern.
The panel said that they found evidence of “unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.”
However, P Sathasivam, the CJI, had said that 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.
On December 23, Ganguly wrote an eight-page letter to CJI alleging that the case against him was a retribution for judgements he delivered “against powerful interests”.
The sexual harassment case came to light in October when the alleged victim 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.
Anadolu Agency, January 2, 2014