New Delhi: Expressing "shock" over the clean chit given to Chief Justice of India in the sexual harassment complaint, the former woman court staffer on Tuesday demanded a copy of the three-judge in-house committee that had found there was "no substance" in her allegations and asserted that as a complaint she had a right to it.
In a letter to the three judges of the committee – Justices S A Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra – the woman asserted that she has a "right to the report", the reasons for the same as well as copies of the depositions of any witnesses, any other persons or any other evidence considered by the Committee.
"Besides this, as is being reported by the media, if a copy of the report is being given to the CJI directly or indirectly, I am entitled to a copy thereof in any case. I find it rather strange that the complaint in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance and that my complaint has been held by the committee to be this without giving me any reasons for the same," she said.
The former court staffer, who had worked at the residential office of the CJI and complained of sexual harassment against the CJI, said the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in Section 13 provides that both parties have a right to receive a copy of the Report.
"Not providing a copy to the complainant while upholding while holding her complaint to be unfounded would be a violation of the principles of natural justice and a complete travesty of justice.”
“It is also respectfully pointed out that the judgement cited was given at a time prior to the Right to Information Act. Even according to the full bench judgement of the Delhi High Court in the Assets disclosure case, such a report should be accessible to any citizen under the RTI. The full bench had held that even assets of judges would be accessible under RTI to any citizen.”
“In these circumstances, I request you to kindly provide me with a copy of the report since I have a right to know how, and on what basis have your Lordships found my complaint to have "no substance"," she asked.
The complainant said she was shocked that despite her detailed affidavit, simple corroborative evidence and clear, consistent statement before the committee reiterating my experience of sexual harassment and consequent victimisation, the Committee has found 'no substance' in her complaint and affidavit.
"I am shocked that the committee has come to an adverse finding against me despite the fact that I was compelled to withdraw from the committee since the committee did not observe even the most basic principles of the procedure. I have not been informed of my basic rights and obligations with regard to the inquiry proceedings. From the beginning there has been a lack of transparency in the functioning of the committee and great prejudice is being caused to me repeatedly," she said.
The woman said while in the first notice received from the committee and in the first hearing, despite repeatedly asking the committee, she was not given any clarity on whether the present proceedings were in-house proceedings or not.
"However, the in-house proceeding rules were now being used to deny me and the public a right to the report. The Secretary General's press note states that a copy of the report will not be made public because of the Supreme Court judgement in Indira Jaising vs Supreme Court of India and Anr. (2003) S SCC 494. It appears from the press release that I, the complainant, will not be provided with a copy of the report," she said.
On Monday, it was disclosed that the three-member judges committee gave its report to the full court saying it found "no substance" in the sexual harassment complaint made by the woman against the CJI. The apex court's Secretary General also said the report would not be made public in accordance with the in house procedure of the court.