The Women in Criminal Law Association has sought an inquiry “at the earliest” into the sexual harassment allegation against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The women lawyers’ body further said CJI Gogoi should not hold office during the process, Scroll reported.
The women lawyers’ body, however, distanced itself from the statement by Bar Council of India, which had called the allegation “false and cooked up”.
A 35-year-old woman who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court wrote to 22 judges of the court on Friday, alleging that CJI Gogoi had sexually harassed her at his residence office in October 2018.
The woman said that after she rebuffed the chief justice, she was moved out of his residence office, where she had been posted in August 2018.
Two months later, she was dismissed from service. One of the three grounds for dismissal, as detailed in the inquiry report, was that she had taken casual leave for one day without approval.
The Supreme Court constituted a special bench on the “independence of the judiciary”, to sit immediately to address the matter on Saturday.
Gogoi, who has denied the allegation, claimed that the judiciary was under serious threat but that the matter would be considered by senior judges of the court.
The judges said an appropriate bench would hear the charges against Gogoi.
In its statement, the Women in Criminal Law Association said, “Even before the allegations properly came to light, the stated purpose of the sitting sought to change the conversation.”
Over 700 people have endorsed the statement so far. “We believe that the complaint should be treated as per procedure and principles of fairness and justice, including the fundamental right to equality before law,” the statement said.
“The said procedure must be in accordance with the in-house procedure applicable to the judges of the Supreme Court and the letter and spirit of the POSH Act [Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013], the Supreme Court Sexual Harassment Regulations, 2013 and service rules if applicable,” it further said.