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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014

SC panel looks at me with 'suspicion': law intern

PTI  New Delhi, November 25, 2013
First Published: 19:58 IST(25/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:29 IST(26/11/2013)

A woman lawyer, who alleged sexual harassment by a recently-retired Supreme Court judge during her internship last December, has said that she has to constantly justify she is not lying and feels humiliated while appearing before the apex court's three-member probe panel.

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The lawyer on Monday, in an interview to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), said that it took her time to come to terms with the fact that she had been assaulted.

"When I finally did, all that I wanted to do was to erase the memory from my conscious. This was a man I had admired, I looked up to him," the 22-year-old told the WSJ.

The judge has not been named.

She said that even though she had pondered over the idea of legal recourse, she feared "it would do more harm than good".

"First, my case would’ve dragged on for years. Second, defense lawyers would make me relive every violating moment in court – something I wanted to bury at the time. Third, in cases of assaults, where there is no physical evidence, it’s one word against the other, really. There’s no reason why a law graduate would’ve won over a judge with a spotless record."

She said that when she appears before the SC panel, she feels she is "being looked at with suspicious eyes".

"It’s ironic I – being a lawyer – say this, but I don’t think Indian law, or our legal system for that matter, is equipped enough to sensitively deal with crimes against women," she said.

Asked if she sought help from her family, she told the WSJ that she talked to them five months after the incident. She also said that they were not keen on a formal complaint and her mother asked her to "accept it and move on".

"All that I wanted to do was shine light on the day-to-day harassment in India’s courts. I also felt writing about it would perhaps give me closure," she said.

She appeared before the panel investigating her allegations for the first time on November 18. The committee comprises of Justice RM Lodha, Justice HL Dattu and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai.

The lawyer, who first made the allegation public by writing a blog on the website Legally India, had said that the SC judge misbehaved with her in a Delhi hotel room last December when the Capital was in the grip of protests following the fatal gang-rape of a paramedical student.

She told the WSJ that she had not expected it to go viral but is happy that it has caught national attention and triggered broader debates.

READ: Law intern confident SC panel will establish truth


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