Law minister Kapil Sibal on Friday criticised the Supreme Court (SC) for having “brushed under the carpet” the sexual harassment case against its former judge AK Ganguly.
Sibal questioned the utility of the three-judge probe panel if no action was to be taken on its findings.
In his first response on the issue, Sibal told reporters, “I am disappointed because the institution which has found that sexual overtures were made was to have taken the matter forward.”
The law minister said in his view, prima facie, the Supreme Court has “brushed it under the carpet, in a sense that they have said they have nothing to do with the matter because he (justice Ganguly) is no longer a judge.”
Sibal contradicted the Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam’s statement that since justice Ganguly was no longer a serving judge, therefore no further action was required.
“Well, if he was no longer a judge, then they should not have set up the inquiry. Having come to a conclusion, they cannot give that reason to say they won't take it forward,” the law minister said.
The three-judge Committee of the SC had indicted justice Ganguly for “unwelcome behaviour” and “conduct of sexual nature” with a woman law intern.
Justice Ganguly, who had retired from the SC in February 2012 and currently heads the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, was accused by a law intern of having sexually harassed her in a hotel room in the capital in December last year. He had strongly denied the charge.
Justice Sathasivam, in a statement on Thursday, made public the panel’s findings and had made it clear that no further follow up action was required by the SC.
Sibal, however, said he was hoping that the country’s top court would take the matter on the judicial side and treat it in a similar fashion like that of any ordinary citizen.
“After all, those who are infallible are also ordinary mortals. And if they are found to have violated law, the court that always protects the dignity of individuals, especially of women, should not be seen to be wanting as they are in this case,” Sibal said.
Pressure mounts for action against judge Ganguly
The Delhi Police meanwhile asked the law intern to come forward and file a complaint in the case.
Deputy commissioner of police SBS Tyagi said they have sent an email to the woman lawyer, asking her to come forward and file an FIR. He said any action would be taken after she comes forward.
As more and more people sought an action against him, the judge refused to comment on the growing demands for his resignation from the post of chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
"Don't disturb me...Don't disturb me. I have tolerated enough," an angry Ganguly told reporters in Kolkata.
TV reports quoted National Commission for Women chairperson Mamta Sharma saying “the commission will take a strong step in this regard and we will issue a notice to him”.
West Bengal law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said chief minister Mamta Banerjee has “set the ball rolling” by urging President Pranab Mukherjee to take an “appropriate action” for Ganguly’s removal from the post of WBHRC chairman.
(With PTI inputs)