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Sitting HC judge quits over sexual misconduct

Justice Nagaraj was found in a compromising position with a female court member six months ago; Chief Justice Khehar sought his resignation after committee of judges conducted probe

In what will go down in the history of the higher judiciary as the most brazen act of sexual misconduct by a sitting judge, a Karnataka High Court judge was forced to resign last week following a complaint after he was found in a compromising position with a female member of his staff six months ago.

Top state government sources confirmed that Justice Arali Nagaraj was asked by Chief Justice J S Khehar to put in his papers on Tuesday after a three-member committee of senior judges found the complaint to be true.

While Nagaraj resigned on the grounds of 'moral turpitude', the HC administration is in the process of sending a detailed report to the authority concerned.

The allegation levelled against the judge was serious, which was later enquired and proved by the panel.

Nagaraj was found in a compromising position with a woman staffer in a chamber at the Dharwad Circuit Bench court complex.

News of the judge's romp somehow leaked and was brought to the notice of Khehar, who had the matter probed and then sought Nagaraj's resignation.

The judge's act inside his chamber in the HC led to a complaint of explosive nature being filed almost six months ago and sealed Nagaraj's fate and left the state's judicial fraternity shocked.

It is learnt that after the unsavoury incident, the lady was promptly transferred out to Gulbarga Circuit Bench.
 
However, the weight and nature of the evidence before the Chief Justice was overwhelming enough for him to come to the conclusion that Nagaraj had committed sexual misconduct and that he should therefore resign.

It was found prudent that instead of formally slapping charges of sexual misconduct and misdemeanour on Nagaraj, he should be asked to make a quiet exit.
 
Nagaraj's resignation comes in the wake of a slew of cases involving judges of the high judiciary, who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Former Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran resigned as CJ of the Sikkim High Court inJuly on charges of corruption and high misdemeanour.

Making history
However, Nagaraj's case is the first of its kind in history of the Indian judiciary, which led to a sitting judge being forced to quit on charges of sexual dalliance with a lady staff member.

When contacted, Karnataka High Court Registrar Somashekhar refused to comment. Meanwhile his personal assistant said, "We do not know anything and I will not talk to the media."

Sources confirmed that it is because of the tawdry nature of the complaint against Nagaraj that the issue is being kept a closely guarded secret.

MiD DAY tried to contact Nagaraj at his residence and spoke to his family members, who said that he had gone out of station.

On the way up
Born in 1951, Nagaraj was appointed as additional judge in the Karnataka High Court on July 4, 2007 and became a permanent judge on July 3, 2009. 

In February 1993, he was directly recruited as a district and sessions judge and served in Belgaum, Mangalore, Bijapur and Bangalore. 

He has also served as member secretary to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority and director of the Karnataka Judicial Academy

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