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SC orders reinstatement of judicial officer who alleged sex harassment by HC judge

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the reinstatement of a former woman judicial officer, who quit in 2014 alleging sexual harassment by a high court judge in Madhya Pradesh.

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The woman judge had sought reinstatement on the grounds that she was forced to resign in 2014, following an inquiry into her allegations of sexual harassment against a high court judge.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai observed, “The resignation cannot be construed to be voluntary. Order accepting resignation is quashed and set aside.” The apex court held that the petitioner will not be entitled to backwages.

The top Court had earlier asked the Madhya Pradesh High Court to consider reinstating the petitioner after she approached the court saying that her resignation was due to coercion. The HC, however, had declined to reinstate the former woman judicial officer.

The petitioner was serving as an Additional District and Sessions Judge when she resigned from service, following her transfer from a Class A to B city. In an earlier hearing, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the petitioner, had told the bench that the transfer was contrary to transfer policy. “Her representation to let her stay till time her daughter completes (class) 12th was rejected. Her second representation to at least transfer her from Class A to B city, where there were colleges for her daughter, was rejected…. After the second application was rejected, out of sheer frustration of choosing between her duties as a mother and a judicial officer, she had to retire,” the advocate said.

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With regards to her sexual harassment allegations, a judges’ inquiry committee — comprising former SC judge, Justice R Bhanumathi; Justice Manjula Chellur, who was then with Bombay HC; and senior advocate K K Venugopal, currently the Attorney General — had said in its report that there was not enough material to hold the respondent judge guilty. However, the report had found her transfer “irregular” and “unjustified”.

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