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Woman judge has objections regarding panel to probe sexual harassment charges

Friday, 15 August 2014 - 6:20am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

The Gwalior woman judge, who has accused a high court judge of sexually harassing her, on Thursday raised objections to the constitution of the enquiry committee set up at the instance of Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and declined to appear before it on the scheduled date.

She also said the judge in question should not be permitted to cross examine her during the enquiry.

Madhya Pradesh chief justice AM Khanwelkar has set up a two-member committee recently, headed by justice Ajit Singh, to examine the allegation of sexual harassment.

Writing a seven-page letter to Khanwelkar and the CJI, the woman judge said, "I have strong objection to the constitution of the commitee. Justice Singh was one of the judges who took the decision to transfer me to Sidhi."

She contended that the transfer was against the policy and it was a punishment on her for resisting the sexual advances made on her by the accused judge and on this ground Justice Singh does not qualify to be a member of the committee.

Also pointing out at the continuation and discharge of judicial and administrative functions by the judge over the staff, she said witnesses, who are judicial officers, will not be able to giver their statement without fear. "So long as he continues to discharge the functions there, my witnesses will not be able to offer their comments in a free and fair manner...His continuation as judge will prejudice the enquiry."

"Being in a position of power. He is in a position to influence staff and colleagues....," she said and appealed the high court chief justice not to assign him any work.

The woman judge, who was summoned to appear before the panel on August 19, demanded for a copy of the terms of reference of the panel and sought to know "whether the committee was set up and the enquiry is being conducted in terms of the Supreme Court Judgement in Vishakha case? "

In addition, her letter seeks video recording of the enquiry proceedings saying, "I may state that I am not willing to be confronted by him at this stage since this is a preliminary enquiry being conducted by the high court and for its satisfaction and...not under any authority of law,"

The additional district and sessions judge from Gwalior, who was heading the Vishaka committee against sexual harassment there, has complained to CJI and other senior judges of the top court saying that she had to resign from service on July 15 due to sexual harassment by the administrative judge of MP high court.

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