SC sets up 3-member committee to probe allegations of sexual harassment against former SC judge

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the setting up of a three-member committee to probe allegations of sexual harassment against a former judge of the court, after a woman lawyer claimed in a blog that she had been sexually assaulted by the judge in December 2012.

The probe panel, consisting of justices RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana P Desai started their investigations from Tuesday evening.

Chief justice of India P Sathasivan expressing his concern over the incident said the case would be probed. He said as the head of the institution, he was also concerned about the allegation and anxious whether the statement was true or not.

The lady lawyer claimed in her blog that she had been harassed while she was interning under the recently retired SC judge.

"Interning during the winter vacations of my final year in University, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highly reputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester."

"For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather. I won't go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that long after I'd left the room, the memory remained, in fact, still remains, with me," she wrote.

The CJI said the committee would go into the whole affair, find out the facts and prepare a report.

Incidents of sexual harassment could never be tolerated and, he said, and assured the AG that the new committee of judges would go to the bottom of the charges and submit a report as soon as possible and that it would not be taken lightly.

Action would be taken on the basis of the report submitted by the inquiry committee, he added.

The lawyer who graduated from Kolkata-based National University of Judicial Sciences this year, said the judge, who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at the time of the massive public outcry against the brutal Nirbhaya gang rape. She made the sensational charge first in blog she wrote on 6 November for 'Journal of Indian Law and Society', and repeating it later in an interview to the website 'Legally India'.

Currently a fellow with 'Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment', she said she had not spoken out because of the high position the judge enjoyed and also because she was too stunned and surprised at the time to even react with anger.