Sex is a basic human instinct. We don’t know when it begins and ends. Between two consenting adults of opposite and same sex, all forms of sex are acceptable.
Such acts are considered within the bind of civility. Adulthood and mutuality is the key as the things sexual are concerned. I have never seen such eerie sex urge as was depicted in the Bengali movie Antarjali Yatra.
Sex is easy because it is obvious. Sex is also difficult because it is veiled. Sexual harassment could be most bizarre and brazen. But it could also be a most sophisticated form of coercion. Cases of sexual harassment are rampant nowadays. Sexual harassment is also used as a tool to frame people by the vested interests.
I know of a case where a duty defying young officer of a bank registered an FIR against the branch manager saying that he tried to rape her in his chamber in broad daylight. She did it because the poor manager tried to rein in on her for her frequent dereliction of duties. All other employees of the bank and the regular customers too deposed before the police against the lady and in favour of the manager. The lady lost her job subsequently as a consequence of a departmental inquiry. But the police case against the bank manger is still hanging in the court of law.
The context here is the allegations of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi by a junior court assistant who was dismissed from her services recently. The allegation of sexual harassment against the CJI appeared on last Saturday in The Wire, Scroll, Leaflet and Caravan, all online platforms in the form of an affidavit. The complaint was sent to all the sitting SC judges except the CJI. The report published by the online platforms is too long and needs a measure of patience to read it to the end. The affidavit is full of shocking details. Everything is mentioned meticulously and it is obvious that it has been drafted carefully by an expert hand. This is the most scandalous thing to have happened to the Supreme Court of India at this critical juncture of our history. How does one react to it? Can we brash it aside as motivated move to defame the CJI Ranjan Gogoi for some extraneous motive? Or is there truth in the complaint which should be taken seriously and investigated? We are in a fix. We can neither deny it outrightly nor accept it on its face value.
Following the publication of the report of the sexual harassment, new developments are taking place which have added new dimensions to it. In a way this has also helped throw new lights on it. One Utsab Bains has revealed that he was offered hefty sum by some quarters to frame the CJI on a sexual harassment case.The way incidents were detailed in the complaint it is difficult to ignore them. But this dexterity of description could also be seen as a matter of suspicion.
Leaving aside these inadequate inferences let us see the repercussions expressed by various quarters on the matter. Immediately after the publication of the report in the online platforms, the CJI, Ranjan Gogoi discussed the matter in session of court convened by him which was attended by Justices Arun Misra and Sanjiv Khanna. In the session, Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “There are forces that are trying to destabilize the judiciary. There are bigger forces behind these allegations hurled at me.” He again said: “I want to tell the citizens of this country that today, the judiciary is under a serious threat.” Irrespective of the veracity of the allegations levelled against the CJI, the convening of a session of court on the issue and chairing it by the CJI was questioned by many. In an article published in The Hindu on last Sunday, senior advocate of the Supreme Court, Dushyant Dave said: ‘Speaking for the Gauhati High Court in 2006, Justice Ranjan Gogoi said in the matter of Ganesh Electric Stores vs State of Assam & Ors: “Law will reach its most glorious moment when ‘men’ can be made wholly free from the shackles of arbitrary and despotic power, however subtle the exercise of such power may be…However, over the years, two basic principles have been recognized as fundamental in the doctrine of natural justice. The first is ‘nemo judex in causa sua’, that is, ‘no man shall be a judge in his own case’; the second is ‘audi altarem partem’, that is, ‘hear the other side’.”
“But what happened in the Supreme Court of India on the morning of Saturday is just the opposite. The constitution of the bench, of course in the exercise of the power of the Master of the Rolls, Chief Justice Gogoi himself styling it as ‘a matter of great importance touching upon the Independence of Judiciary’, and permitting mention by the Solicitor General are all acts done by the CJI contrary to ‘nemo judex in causa sua’.”
Exactly on these two grounds of procedural impropriety, SCAORA( Supreme Court Advocates On Record Association and SCBA( Supreme Court Bar Association) opposed the manner in which the complaint was dealt with. These two are premier SC bodies. Following their censure, a full court of SC has now formed a new bench comprising Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee to hear the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, Gogoi. That there is deeper design behind the recent SC controversy cannot be ruled out. Only propriety and objectivity can protect the independence of judiciary.