A former law intern, who accused former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly of sexual harassment, has issued a statement slamming his letter to Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam claiming innocence and hinted that she may lodge a police complaint.
"Those who have been spreading rumours and politicising the issue, are doing so out of prejudice and malice to obfuscate the issue and escape scrutiny and accountability," she wrote in a blog post on Journal of Indian Law and Society.
Journal of Indian Law and Society is a student run peer reviewed journal based at Kolkata's National University of Juridical Sciences.
Her comments comes a day after justice Ganguly wrote an eight-page letter to CJI Sathasivam, denying that he had sexually harassed the intern and alleging there was a "palpable design" to malign him because of the judgements he had given against "powerful quarters".
He also said his side of the story was being denied a fair hearing and asserted his "moral strength lies undiminished" despite such complaints.
Ganguly's response came almost a month after a Supreme Court committee found him guilty of indulging in "unwelcome conduct of sexual nature".
He has steadfastly refused to step down as the chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission despite protests from all corners.
In her rebuttal to justice Ganguly's letter, the intern said that after the incident when she had returned to her college in Kolkata, she spoke to some of her faculty at different times.
"As the University did not have a policy against sexual harassment of women students during internship, it was indicated to me that any action would be ineffective. I was also informed that the only route for me was to file a complaint with the police, which I was reluctant to do. However, I felt it was important to warn young law students that status and position should not be confused for standards of morality and ethics. Hence, I chose to do so via a blog post," she said.
The intern said that while deposing before the committee probing her allegation against justice Ganguly, she had "sought confidentiality of proceedings keeping in mind the gravity of the situation, as well as the privacy of everyone involved".
"I did not question the jurisdiction or intent of the three-member Judges' Committee at any point, and had full faith that they would establish the truth of my statements," she said.
She said that the apex court panel had acted with great discretion given the delicate nature of the case and she appreciated it.
The intern said after appearing before the panel on November 18 and giving an oral statement before it, she had also submitted to it a written statement signed by her.
On November 29, she had sent an affidavit to additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, disclosing to her details of sexual harassment and requested her to seek appropriate action.
The contents of the affidavit are substantially the same as the statements made by her before the panel, she said.
"Even after the operative portion of the report of the Committee, was made public, many eminent citizens and legal luminaries continued to deride the Committee’s findings, and malign me."
She said that in order to preserve her dignity and that of the Supreme Court, she authorised Jaising to make her statement public.
"At this stage, I believe that anyone claiming that my statements are false is showing disrespect not just to me, but also to the Supreme Court of India."
Indicating that she may lodge a police complaint, the she said,"I request that it be acknowledged that I have the discernment to pursue appropriate proceedings at appropriate times. I ask that my autonomy be respected fully."
In Kolkata, Justice Ganguly said he would not comment on the intern's response.
"I don't want to say anything on the matter. I have no reaction," he said on being asked by PTI about the intern's rebuttal.
Mounting pressure on the judge, Trinamool Congress asked him to step down as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) on moral grounds.
"What he has written to the Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam, is his business. It is not our political demand but a demand for decency and justice that he should step down on moral grounds", senior TMC leader and party MP Saugata Roy said.
A group of lawyers and retired judges today took out a protest march in Kolkata demanding the sacking of Justice Ganguly as chairman of the WBHRC.
The woman, who now works as a lawyer with an NGO, had written a blog on November 6 accusing the judge of sexually harassing her at a hotel in New Delhi on December 24 2012 when the capital was in the grip of protest following the rape of a paramedical student on December 16.
The CJI had set up the committee on November 12 to look into her allegations after the issue was widely reported in mainstream media.
(With inputs from PTI)