Centre mulls fresh SC probe against Ganguly; Judge defiant
Government today mulled the option of a fresh Supreme Court inquiry against Justice A K Ganguly into a law intern’s allegation of sexual harassment
New Delhi/Kolkata: Government today mulled the option of a fresh Supreme Court inquiry against Justice A K Ganguly into a law intern’s allegation of sexual harassment even as the former judge ignored calls for his resignation as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
Highly-placed sources said the Home Ministry has sought the opinion of the Law Ministry after President Pranab Mukherjee sent to it two letters written by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who wanted “urgent appropriate action” against the judge.
Government is also exploring whether a criminal case can be filed by Delhi Police against Justice Ganguly, they said.
In Kolkata, Justice Ganguly, who retired from the Supreme Court on February 3, 2012, showed no signs of heeding to mounting pressure to step down and instead stuck to his version, refuting the intern’s allegation.
“I have denied it, what more will I say,” Ganguly told PTI over phone when asked about the allegation.
In her affidavit to a three-judge panel set up by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam to go into her allegation that Justice Ganguly had sexually harassed her in a hotel room on December 24 last year, the intern has described in detail his alleged behaviour when she had gone to assist him in his work.
The panel had indicted him by holding that the statement of the intern, both written and oral, had prima facie disclosed “an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature)” by Justice Ganguly with her in the Le Meridien hotel room approximately between 8 pm and 10.30 pm.
The Chairman of State Human Rights Commission can only be removed on the orders of the President following the receipt of the Supreme Court’s inquiry report that would be vetted by the Union Cabinet.
According to Section 23 of the Human Rights Act, the Chairperson or any other member of the State Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of “proved misbehaviour or incapacity” after the Supreme Court inquiry.
The apex court will carry out the inquiry on a reference being made to it by the President in accordance with the laid down procedure.
If the court reports that the Chairperson or such other Member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed, the report would be sent to Cabinet which would advice the President accordingly.
Asked for his reaction on Trinamool Congress MPs demanding his removal as WBHRC chairman in the Rajya Sabha today, Justice Ganguly said, “how can I comment on Parliamentary proceedings?”
The beleaguered chairman, asked by the media outside his residence why he was choosing not to resign, angrily retorted “that is none of your business.”
He reacted similarly when asked whether he planned to take the matter forward.
As pressure mounted on him to resign, Justice Ganguly sought four weeks’ time to respond to National Commission for Women which had asked him to explain his position.
“Justice Ganguly has sought four weeks’ time citing he needs to collect all the documents regarding the case,” Member of the NCW Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar said.
The Commission had taken a suo motu cognisance of the case and had sent notice to him on December 6 to explain his position post the indictment by the apex court panel.
Interestingly, in Kolkata, Justice Ganguly, as WBHRC Chairman, has taken suo motu cognisance of a case of outraging the modesty of a young girl.
Justice Ganguly, who has been attending the office since Friday, after skipping it for few days, took up the case during a a meeting of the Commission on Monday.