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Conspiracy to charge CJI Gogoi with sexual harassment “can’t be ruled out”: SC

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Referring to Justice A K Patnaik committee Inquiry report, the Supreme Court on Thursday said conspiracy to level sexual harassment charges against former CJI Ranjan Gogoi in April 2019 “cannot be ruled out”.

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The report stated that the sexual misconduct charges could have been levelled against the then CJI to falsely frame him for taking brave decisions on judicial & administrative side, said a bench of Justices S K Kaul, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

The SC in its order said the conspiracy to level sexual harassment charges against the CJI Gogoi “cannot be ruled out”.

In its report, Justice Patnaik committee said he did not have the mandate to probe the conspiracy as already a three-judge committee headed by Justice S A Bobde had already given clean chit to Justice Gogoi in the sexual harassment case.

Quoting an Intelligence Bureau report submitted to Justice Patnaik committee, the apex court stated that some people were unhappy with Justice Gogoi because of his tough stand in finalisation if NRC-Assam and they could have been part of hatching conspiracy to defame then CJI.

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Justice Patnaik Committee also said to have claimed that then CJI Gogoi’s tough decisions to streamline registry could also have triggered the hatching of conspiracy.

Justice Kaul-led bench decided to close suo motu proceedings, initiated on SG Tushar Mehta’s request a day after sexual harassment charges were published in some portals on April 19, 2019. It was followed by a complaint from Adv Utsav Bains, who alleged conspiracy behind charges.

The top court bench said Justice A K Patnaik expressed inability to probe conspiracy because of lack of mandate and access to telecommunication records as well as WhatsApp and Telegram messages.

Bench headed by Justice Kaul also asserted that as two years have passed, recovering electronic data and evidence will be difficult. And as in-house inquiry committee has gone into the merit of sexual harassment charges, “no purpose would be served in continuing the suo motu proceedings.”

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