Lok Sabha’s former Speaker and eminent barrister Somnath Chatterjee has come out strongly against the Union cabinet’s decision for a presidential reference to the Chief Justice of India to probe afresh sexual harassment charges against Justice AK Ganguly and remove him as the West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairperson.
In an exclusive conversation, Chatterjee said: “To my mind, neither the law minister nor the home minister, not even the Union cabinet -- far less the attorney general -- has any authority or jurisdiction to advise the President under the Act. The President exercises territory authority as conferred on him by the statute and not as contemplated by the Constitution.”
He added: “I hope the respected Rashtrapati ji will not allow himself to be involved (in the matter) by those who appear to be acting in a conspiratorial manner.”
Chatterjee added: “Earlier, senior judges had participated in the probe against Justice Ganguly and they came out with their primary decision. Now (sending) the same matter to the Supreme Court is nothing but, to my mind, violation of the judiciary and its mockery.
“In any event, the allegation against Justice Ganguly comes under Section 23(2)(e) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, which lays down only legal protection of the matter. Justice Ganguly can be removed from the commission’s post only upon his conviction and after being sentenced to prison for the alleged offence, for which no step – not even filing of an FIR -- has taken place,” Chatterjee said.
He added: “This is my minimum expectation that the Supreme Court will not deal with the matter anymore…. As the letter dated December 25, 2013, by Justice Ganguly clearly shows, the attitude of most judges of the Supreme Court towards him is partisan.”