Independence of judiciary under threat, says CJI Ranjan Gogoi after woman accuses him of sexual harassment

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court held an extraordinary hearing on Saturday after a former employee of the apex court accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment and persecution.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Gogoi was constituted after a sworn affidavit by the woman copies of which were sent to the residences of 22 apex court judges became public on Saturday.

During the hearing in CJI’s court No 1, an unfazed Justice Gogoi said the allegations are unbelievable.

“This is unbelievable. I don’t think I should stoop low even to deny these allegation,” he said, adding, “There has to be bigger force behind this, they want to deactivate the office of CJI.”

The apex court registry in a notice earlier in the day said a three-bench headed by the CJI was being set up to deal with a “matter of great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary”. The bench also comprised justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna

The former employee has described two incidents of alleged molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, only days after he was appointed as the CJI.

The woman also said that she and three other members of her family were dismissed or suspended from their jobs following the alleged harassment.

Confirming that a letter by the woman has been received by several sitting judges. Supreme Court Secretary General Sanjeev Sudhakar Kalgaonkar said all the allegations made by the woman concerned are malafide and have no basis.