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I Shouldn’t Have Been On The Bench Hearing Sexual Harassment Case Against Me: Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi

Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Wednesday that he should not have been a part of the Supreme Court bench that heard the sexual harassment allegations against him.

Gogoi was speaking at the launch of his memoir Justice for the Judge.

The former chief justice had been accused of sexual harassment by a Supreme Court staffer in 2019. Gogoi himself headed the bench that heard the case suo moto.

The former chief justice said on Wednesday that in hindsight, he should not have been on the bench. “But what do you do if your hard-earned reputation of over 45 years is sought to be destroyed overnight? Gogoi asked. “Are you expected to act with rationality? Is the CJI not human?”

The former chief justice added that in its order, the bench had only said it expected the media to be vigilant, India Today reported. “And what is the media talking about? That justice Gogoi sat on the bench and gave himself a clean chit. We all make mistakes.”

The Supreme Court had closed the sexual harassment case against Gogoi in February on grounds that it was unlikely that electronic evidence would be recovered in the case.

Meanwhile, during the book launch, Gogoi said that an in-house inquiry could not be described as “toothless”.

“A prima facie finding would require the judge to resign,” he added. “And if he doesn’t resign, the matter goes to the President and the prime minister to start impeachment. The alternative is the internal complaints committee. You know who heads the ICC (internal complaints committee)? The additional registrar.”

The former chief justice added that he would have been happy if the additional registrar heard the case. “He would have listened to what I had to say. I would have called him to the chamber and said pass order in my favour. I put my head in the noose. Justice SA Bobde would have been happy to hold me guilty. He would have got an additional seven-month tenure as chief justice of India.”

Other than referring to the evening after delivering the Ayodhya verdict, Gogoi writes: “After the judgment, the Secretary General organised a photo session in the judges’ gallery outside Court No 1, below the Ashoka Chakra. In the evening, I took the judges for dinner to Taj Mansingh Hotel. We ate Chinese food and shared a bottle of wine, the best available there. I picked the tab, being the eldest.”

Led by then CJI Gogoi, the five-judge Constitution bench that delivered the Ayodhya verdict also included then CJI-designate S A Bobde and Justices D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

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