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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

BJP, law officer demand Ganguly's resignation

Agencies  Kolkata/New Delhi, December 13, 2013
First Published: 14:44 IST(13/12/2013) | Last Updated: 15:03 IST(16/12/2013)

Retired Supreme Court judge Ashok Kumar Ganguly, accused of sexual harassment by a woman lawyer, on Friday refused to comment on growing demands for his removal from the post of chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) in Parliament and outside it.

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Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking action against the former judge and also demanded his resignation.

"A person against whom there is an allegation of sexual harassment cannot be allowed to occupy the position of chairman of a human rights commission without his name being honourably cleared," Jaising wrote in her letter.

Earlier, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had raised the demand for his resignation as soon as the house assembled for the day.

"I will not say anything about this," Justice Ganguly said when asked for his reaction on the uproar in both the houses of Parliament.

"I have denied the allegations, I have nothing more to say," Justice Ganguly told PTI.

The retired judge has already ruled out resigning from the post of WBHRC chairman.

A three-member Supreme Court judges' probe panel, in a report submitted early this month, found Ganguly guilty of "unwelcome behaviour", but said that since he was no longer a sitting judge of the apex court, and the victim was not on the rolls of the court, no further action was needed to be taken by the apex court in the matter.

Swaraj said Ganguly should have quit when he was accused of sexual harassment, in the first place. And now that the apex court panel has found him guilty, he must resign, she said.

"But he has stuck to his chair, hence I, through you (the speaker), urge him to immediately resign from his post, failing which he should be removed," she said.

"These are all relationships based on trust. If these trustworthy people become the accused, then the situation becomes all the more serious," she said.

The Opposition leader said: "The higher the stature of a person, the bigger should be the punishment. The stature of a person, instead of becoming his shield, should become the reason for his punishment."

Swaraj said that cases of sexual harassment were being exposed every day, and the way to control them is to punish all the influential men involved in such crimes quickly, so other people too learn a lesson.

Supporting her demand, Trinamool Congress member Sudip Bandopadhyay said: "We endorse her (Sushma Swaraj's) views and Ganguly should resign immediately. The allegations against him should be taken seriously and such kind of a person should not be allowed to continue as the chairman of the human rights commission of West Bengal".

READ: BJP, senior law officer demand Ganguly's resignation

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who had chosen justice Ganguly as the chairman of WBHRC after coming to power in 2011, too has written twice to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking strong action against the former judge.

Former Lok Sabha speaker and barrister Somnath Chatterjee has defended the beleagured WBHRC chairman, saying, "I have faith in him", while claiming that the exercise against him was "overzealous".

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

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