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SC forms panel to probe intern's sexual harassment charge against ex-judge

Hit by allegations of sexual misbehaviour by one of its judges, the Supreme Court on Tuesday constituted a three-judge committee to go into the charge of a woman intern that she was sexually harassed last December by a judge, who retired recently.

Observing that he was concerned as head of the institution (judiciary), Chief Justice P Sathasivam said, "In the cases of sexual harassment, we cannot take it lightly."

"We are taking steps," said the three-judge bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh after Attorney General G E Vahavati mentioned the matter, saying, "Its an extremely serious matter".

Supreme Court
Supreme Court. File pic

The CJI said the matter was also mentioned at 10.30 AM today and during the lunch recess it was discussed with other judges.

"I have constituted a committee comprising three judges--Justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai."

"The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare the report and from today evening they are going to start their work," the CJI said.

"First, the committee will find out the correctness of the statement," Justice Sathasivam said, observing that there are records about the interns or advocates who are associated with judges.

Further entries are made about persons coming to the Supreme Court and the committee will go into it, he said. "As the head of the institution, I am also concerned about the allegation," the CJI said, adding, "I am anxious whether the statement is true or not."

The allegation of sexual assault hit the Supreme Court when a young woman intern accused a sitting judge, who retired recently, of having misbehaved with her in a hotel room last December when the nation was grappling with the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in the capital.

The allegation, levelled by the woman lawyer against the unnamed judge, was raised in the apex court before the Chief Justice by advocate M L Sharma with a plea that the issue be taken note of suo motu on the basis of media reports and an inquiry be initiated. 

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