Ashok Kumar Ganguly, facing charges of sexual harassment of a woman law intern, resigned on Monday from the post of chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC), saving himself the all too certain disgrace of being asked to do so following a presidential reference for his removal.The former Supreme Court judge handed over his resignation to West Bengal governor MK Narayanan at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on Monday evening after attending his office.
Maintaining a stoic silence during the day, Ganguly even issued an order on a case of harassment of a lower caste school teacher Shukla Panja, thus keeping media following his every move, guessing.
The resignation, however, became a matter of time, after being revealed on Sunday that Ganguly had expressed desire to step down following mounting pressure from various quarters in a letter to former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee.
Ganguly’s resignation capped several days of high drama ever since a law intern and a student of National University of Judicial Sciences accused Ganguly of sexual harassment at a hotel in New Delhi in December 2012 revealed last November when a Supreme Court panel probing the incident found him prima facie disclosing act of unwelcome conduct of sexual nature.
A three-judge Supreme Court panel had indicted him by holding that the statement of the intern, both written and oral, had prima facie disclosed “an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature)” by the judge with her in a hotel in Delhi on December 24, 2012. Justice Ganguly has denied the allegations and blamed “powerful interests” of trying to tarnish his image because of certain judgments delivered by him.
Following this revelation, voices rose from several quarters of the society demanding Ganguly’s ouster, shrillest being that of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who had been at the receiving end of many orders of head of the state human rights commission. Claiming innocence Ganguly refused to step down even as the Centre approved an unprecedented presidential reference for his removal from the post.