Sexual Harassment Case against Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi Closed: Supreme Court

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The judiciary has been subject to numerous allegations in terms of its function. However, none of these allegations or complaints has been as tainted as the sexual harassment allegations that were raised in 2019 by a Supreme Court employee against the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Facts

In 2019, several newspapers reported a sexual harassment allegation levelled against the then Chief Justice, Ranjan Gogoi. The allegations were raised by a Supreme Court employee. The Court took suo-moto cognizance of the same and looked into the matter. The three-judges bench then comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta ordered for the launch of an inquiry committee to look into the matter in order to examine if it was a conspiracy.

Report

The report that was filed based on the internal inquiry that was conducted by former Supreme Court Justice A.K Patnaik is not publicly available. However, the Court heavily relied on this document while arriving at the decision.

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The inquiry was based on the allegations that the complaints raised against the then CJI were a conspiracy. The inquiry was to look into evidence that could clarify the idea of conspiracy in the allegations raised.

This was following Gogoi’s statement that the allegations “were a plot to deactivate the office of the CJI.” The committee that conducted the inquiry also had members from the CBI, Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police.

Court Decision

The Court reached the said decision based on a report that stated that “it is not possible to find corroborative material qua the allegations of Mr Utsav Singh Bains made in the affidavit.” The report that was drafted by Justice Patnaik on an internal inquiry had stated that “the existence of a conspiracy cannot be completely ruled out.”

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The three-judge bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, closed the suo-moto case which was initiated in April 2019 claiming lack of electronic evidence. The Court opined that

“We are also of the view that two years having passed and the possibility of recovery of electronic records at this distance of time is remote, especially since the scope of the enquiry and the power of the learned Judge is limited, no useful purpose will be served by continuing these proceedings.”

The case has been closed.

In Re: Matter Of Great Public Importance Touching Upon The Independence Of Judiciary-Mentioned By Shri Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India (LL 2021 SC 95)


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