Delhi HC dismisses plea by judge challenging his removal for sexual harassment
- The court’s decision comes on the plea by the officer, who had challenged his dismissal from service by the Delhi government in March last year.
The Delhi high court on Friday dismissed the plea by a judicial officer challenging his removal from service on charges of sexual harassment of a female Ahlmad at the Dwarka District court in 2016, where he was posted as an additional judge.
A bench of justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and justice Asha Menon said that the Delhi Higher Judicial Service (DHJS) officer was given ample opportunity by the Full Court of the Delhi high court to justify his stand. The court also said that even the Supreme Court in 2019 had held that there was no perversity with the order passed by the disciplinary committee.
“….having judicially examined the report, not only as to the procedure followed and opportunities at each and every stage provided to the petitioner but also on merits, we are more than convinced, of the conclusion having been rightly drawn on the basis of material on record that the allegations of sexual harassment against the petitioner, stand proved,” the bench said in a 32-page judgment.
The court’s decision comes on the plea by the officer, who had challenged his dismissal from service by the Delhi government in March last year, on the recommendations of the Full Court of the Delhi high court on charges of sexual harassment. The officer had sought his restoration in service, with all consequential benefits.
The incident of sexual harassment dates back to July 5, 2016, when the accused judicial officer was an additional district judge posted at Dwarka courts in Delhi. A junior judicial assistant working in his court alleged sexual harassment by the officer and forwarded her complaint to the chief justice of the Delhi high court for appropriate action.
The woman had said that she worked in the court of the accused officer as Ahlmad (judicial assistant) between May 18, 2015 and May 18, 2016. The registrar general of the Delhi high court, after the incident, had directed the station house officer (SHO) to register an FIR against the accused officer and he was suspended from service.
The officer in his plea, however, contended that false charges were levelled against him by the Ahlmad since he had issued notice to her in connection to some missing documents on July 5, 2016 and in the counterblast, she had filed a complaint against him on July 11, 2016.
He, through his counsel, stated that on 19th July, 2016, an Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (Sexual Harassment Act) was appointed, which did not exonerate the judicial officer, even when it should have.
The officer also said that he was not given a copy of the report of March 9, 2018 by the ICC, detailing its findings. He added that the report did not find any “proved allegation”.
The bench, while referring to Aug, 2019 judgment of the SC, noted that the apex court had held that there was no error in the decision of the Full Court of the Delhi HC of July 13, 2016 to suspend the petitioner and initiate inquiry proceedings against him.
The court also said that the defence taken by the officer at this stage has already been exhausted before the SC. It also said that the SC had held the proceedings culminating in the report, proving the sexual harassment charge was validly instituted against him.
It also said that the SC was seized of all details of the communications sent to the judicial officer, but did not direct the Full Court to consider the ICC report afresh, considering it as a report of the inquiring authority.