New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has set up a three-member panel to investigate sexual harassment charges against S K Gangele, a sitting judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, nearly a month after admitting a
motion supported by 58 Rajya Sabha members to impeach him.
The committee, to be headed by Supreme Court judge Vikramjit Sen, will have Justice Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court and jurist K K Venugopal as its members, a Rajya Sabha notification said on Thursday.
Last month, 58 MPs including Digvijaya Singh (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Derek O' Brien (TMC), Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan (SP) had submitted a motion to Ansari for initiating the impeachment process against Justice Gangele for alleged sexual harassment of a woman judge in Gwalior.
The committee will now investigate the charges and grounds for removal of the judge and submit its report to the Rajya Sabha Chairman. The report will then be tabled in both Houses of Parliament along with evidences. Posted in the Gwalior bench, Justice Gangele is now serving in the principal bench at Jabalpur.
The motion was admitted by Ansari following which he wrote to Chief Justice of India H L Dattu to nominate a judge from the Supreme Court and a Chief Justice of a High Court for the probe panel.
The motion lists three 'grounds of misconduct' for impeachment: 'Sexual harassment' of the woman judge; 'victimisation' of the judge 'for not submitting to his illegal and immoral demands', including, but not limited to, transferring her from Gwalior to Sidhi; and 'misusing' his position as the administrative judge of the MP High Court to use the subordinate judiciary to victimise the judge.
Other signatories include Satish Mishra (BSP), Anu Aga and H K Dua.
As per provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, if the motion is admitted, the Speaker (of Lok Sabha) or the Chairman constitutes an investigation committee consisting of three members.
The issue had hogged media headlines after the former Additional and Sessions judge resigned on July 15 last year
days following her transfer to a remote district. She then sent representations to the President, the Chief Justice of
India and the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on August 1 in which she had made serious allegations against Justice Gangele.
Chief Justice Dattu had also set up a three-judge panel for a thorough probe into the sexual harassment complaint against Gangele after receiving a preliminary inquiry report on it.
If the Rajya Sabha takes up the impeachment motion, it will be the third such case in Parliament's history and the second in the Upper House. Justice Soumitra Sen of Calutta High Court had faced impeachment proceedings in Rajya Sabha in 2011 for 'misconduct' and 'misappropriation of funds' in the capacity of a Calcutta High Court receiver.
The Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of impeaching him and while the proceedings in the Lok Sabha were in progress, the judge resigned. Subsequently, the impeachment proceedings were dropped, taking into consideration his resignation.
Under the constitution, a judge of a high court or the Supreme Court can be removed by the President by a motion adopted in both the Houses of Parliament by two-thirds majority in the same session on 'proved misconduct and incapacity'.
The first such case involved impeachment of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court in May 1993 and the motion fell in Lok Sabha for lack of numbers.