Know why this SC Judge opted out of panel hearing case against CJI...Woman judge joins panel

New Delhi, Apr 21: Supreme Court judge Indu Malhotra was Thursday appointed as a new member of the in-house inquiry panel set up to examine the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, following the recusal of Justice N V Ramana. 

 The letter by Justice N V Ramana recusing himself from the Supreme Court's in-house inquiry panel, set up to examine the allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has said he is opting out so that the exercise is "not vitiated", according to sources.Justice Ramana in his letter has said that he has not recused owing to the objections raised by the apex court's former woman employee who has levelled allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI, the sources said.They said Justice Ramana has written a letter to Justice S A Bobde, who is heading the in-house inquiry panel."Justice Ramana has recused and letter has been sent to Justice Bobde. It is a big three-page letter. The recusal is not based on the grounds raised by the former woman employee. But it is done so that the whole exercise does not get vitiated," the sources said.The recusal came a day after the woman wrote a letter to the panel expressing reservation over the inclusion of Justice Ramana.She objected to the presence of Justice Ramana in the panel on the ground that he is a close friend of the CJI and a regular visitor to his house.The woman was supposed to appear before the panel on Friday.In a letter to Justice Bobde, she also raised question over the presence of only one woman apex court judge -- Indira Banerjee -- in the panel to examine her allegations against the CJI which is not in accordance with Vishaka Guidelines.She said that as per the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka judgement, for holding inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment at work place, the committee must have a majority of women.According to an official, the woman wrote, "I would humbly suggest that since I was posted in the CJI's residence office, I know that Justice Ramana is a close friend of the CJI and is like a family member to him."Justice Ramana is a frequent visitor to the residence of the CJI. Because of this I fear that my affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing."The woman had also asked the panel to allow her to appear before it along with a lawyer and the proceedings of the committee be video recorded so that there can be no dispute about what transpired in the inquiry.In the letter, the official said, the woman expressed concern over the statements made by the CJI when he sat on a bench on Saturday along with Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjiv Khanna.The committee headed by Justice Bobde, the senior-most apex court judge, was appointed Tuesday and he inducted Justices Ramana and Banerjee into it."I decided to have Justice Ramana in the panel as he is next to me in the seniority and Justice Banerjee as she is a woman judge," he had told PTI Tuesday."This is going to be an in-house procedure which does not contemplate representation of advocate on behalf of parties. It is not a formal judicial proceeding," he said.He had clarified that there is no time frame to complete the inquiry and future course of action will depend on "what comes out of the inquiry" which will be "confidential".PTI

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