Justice (retd) Asok Kumar Ganguly — who has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), saying that people whose interests suffered because of his adverse verdicts were maligning him with molestation charges — is receiving support.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to stop the “witch hunt” against the retired judge in the case of the alleged sexual harassment of a law intern.
In a letter to Singh, he has said there has to be an impartial investigation to determine the truth as to what happened in the “media-driven episode of a former intern alleging ‘unwelcome’ behaviour”.
Swamy echoed Ganguly’s feelings. The latter’s letter to the CJI said: “There is a concerted move to tarnish my image as I had the unfortunate duty of rendering certain judgments against powerful interests. I may point out that despite odds, I judged the issues without fear or favour and if that triggers a collateral attack on me, then it poses a threat to the independence of the judiciary.”
Lawyers of the Calcutta high court, regardless of party affiliation, are of the opinion that the conspiracy angle is not unfounded because several political leaders, including those of the ruling Trinamool Congress, have spoken against him. The Trinamool has demanded Ganguly’s resignation as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC).
More than 100 lawyers took part in a rally in Kolkata last Wednesday, expressing solidarity with Ganguly.
“If after investigation somebody is found guilty, he must be penalised. But the constant attempt to malign him (Ganguly) and put him under pressure is being made to ensure he cannot function freely as chairperson of the WBHRC,” lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, former mayor in the then CPI(M)-controlled Kolkata Municipal Corporation, said.
Lawyer and senior Congress leader Arunava Ghosh remarked: “If an allegation is made against somebody in a high position, does it mean he has to resign? If the same allegation is made against those who are demanding his resignation, will they resign?”
Lawyer Koushik Chanda, who fought for the BJP against the state government’s decision to grant stipends to imams and muezzins, said: “Despite no valid complaint, the way pressure is mounted for his resignation implies a force is at work and it does not want him to function freely. We smell a rat here and think the resignation calls are mala fide in nature.”
The underlying message in this is that Ganguly had an eventful career both at the Supreme Court and the WBHRC (see box).
However, the controversy has not ended because the intern has refuted Ganguly’s conspiracy claims in her blog and said she might approach the police at an ‘appropriate time’. But even a year after the alleged incident took place, she has refused to specify what the appropriate time to approach the police would be.