The Centre has approved an unprecedented presidential reference on West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) chairman justice AK Ganguly, clearing the way for his ultimate removal on sexual harassement charges.
Apart from sexual harassement . Ganguly has also been accused of taking on private work while holding the official post and for visiting Pakistan without informing the West Bengal government.
“The proposal of the ministry of home affairs has been approved, but nothing to report on that right now,” said Union finance minister P Chidambaram.
The cabinet nod comes in the wake of the Union home ministry moving a cabinet note after it got the go ahead from Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati who found a prima facie case against Ganguly under section 23 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
The Act necessitates that a chairperson or member of the NHRC or a state human rights commission can only be removed “by order of the president of India on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the president, has, on inquiry... reported that the chairperson or the member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed”.
The government will now send the proposal to president Pranab Mukherjee for consent. Thereafter, it will be sent to the chief justice of the Supreme Court that is expected to conduct a judicial inquiry into the case by a three-judge bench.
The apex court is also expected to take note of allegations pertaining to justice Ganguly’s visit to Pakistan and taking an assignment of arbitration from the All India Football Federation.
“He may step down in the larger interest or if he finds that the judicial proceedings can damage his image beyond repair,” a source said.
Onus on him to step down
Justice Ganguly has denied allegations against him. The presidential reference puts the onus the on him to take the recourse of stepping down from the post of WBHRC chairman and save the position from getting embroiled in a legal tangle, a source told dna.