The process for removal of Justice AK Ganguly as the head of West Bengal Human Rights Commission chief on Thursday moved a step forward with the Union Cabinet approving a proposal for sending a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court on the issue.
The Cabinet approved the proposal of the Home Ministry on sending the reference for a probe into allegation of sexual harassment against the retired apex court judge.
"The proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs has been approved. I have nothing further to report on that now," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters while briefing on the Cabinet decisions.
When pressed further, he said the Home Ministry would brief on the matter "at an appropriate time".
The proposal will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee who will then send the matter to the Chief Justice of India seeking a probe into the issue based on the three points raised in the reference.
As part of the proposal, the Home Ministry had placed the views of Attorney General G E Vahanvati who has noted that a case can be made out against Ganguly following allegations of "unwelcome behaviour" towards a woman law intern, sources said.
The Attorney General's suggestions came after his views were invited on a letter to the President by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking Ganguly's removal as chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission following the intern's allegation of sexual harassment.
Justice Ganguly has strongly denied the charge and refused to quit his post.
Sources said the Attorney General had been asked to give views on whether any case can be made out on three issues -- allegation of sexual harassment against Ganguly, his visit to Pakistan without informing West Bengal government and taking an assignment of arbitration from All India Football Federation despite holding a high post of human rights body.
The Protection of Human Rights Act is clear that a chairperson or member of NHRC or a state human rights commission can only be removed "by order of the President of India on the grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on enquiry... reported that the Chairperson or the member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed".