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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

Justice Ganguly's conduct was improper: SC panel

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 05, 2013
First Published: 18:55 IST(5/12/2013) | Last Updated: 08:50 IST(6/12/2013)

A Supreme Court panel has indicted retired judge justice AK Ganguly for sexual harassment of a former law intern in December 2012, triggering fresh demands for his resignation as the chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

"...the committee is of the considered view that the statement of Seema (name changed), both written and oral, prima facie discloses an act of unwelcome behavior (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature) by justice (retd) AK Ganguly with her in the room in hotel Le Meridien on December 24, 2012, approximately between 8pm and 10.30pm," the panel said.

The committee comprised justice RM Lodha, justice HL Dattu and justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The alleged incident took place at a time when the capital was in the grip of protests over the gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student.

When asked for his reaction, justice Ganguly refused to comment.

"Please don't ask me anything. I am not saying anything," he told HT.

The top court, however, decided not to take any further action in the matter as justice Ganguly had retired when the incident took place and the woman, who now works as a lawyer with an NGO, was not an intern on the Supreme Court rolls.

Justice Ganguly retired on February 3 last after delivering the landmark verdict in the 2G case, cancelling 122 licences allocated to telecom companies during A Raja's tenure as telecom minister in 2008.

Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had on November 12 constituted the committee after the lawyer on November 6 blogged about her ordeal, which was reported by a website and followed up by newspapers and TV channels.

The committee gave its report to the CJI on November 28.

Justice Ganguly's indictment has led to fresh demands for his resignation.

Additional solicitor general Indira Jaisingh said: "The law is clear. One has to be above suspicion if holding a high position. In this case it has moved beyond suspicion. The committee has prima facie held he committed an offence of sexual nature. He must immediately resign."

Jaisingh suggested the police must take suo-moto action.

Another SC advocate Kamini Jaiswal said: "It is correct for the SC not to take further action. But, since an offence has been made out, the police - either Delhi or West Bengal - must take action. The CJI could have referred it to the police."

The CJI called for a full court meeting of 30 judges on Thursday evening to deliberate upon the committee's report. At the end of the hour-long meeting it was decided that no further follow-up action was required as justice Ganguly had already demitted office on the date of the incident.

A statement on the SC website said: "As decided by the Full Court in its meeting, it is made clear that the representations made against former judges of this court are not entertainable by the administration of the Supreme Court."

The committee, it said, was constituted as the media reports gave an impression that the misbehavior was alleged against a sitting SC judge.

Read more: Mamata seeks President's intervention in Ganguly case

Read more: SC panel names judge accused of sexual harassment

Read more: Parties split on SC ex-judge’s fate

Read more: Ex-CJI Altamas Kabir says hard to believe allegations against Ganguly

Read more: Sushma demands Justice Ganguly's resignation as WBHRC chief

Read more: Justice Ganguly yet to decide whether to quit as WBHRC chief


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