In a sworn affidavit, copies of which were sent to the residences of 22 Supreme Court judges yesterday, a former employee of the Supreme Court of India accused the chief justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, of sexual harassment and persecution. The former employee describes two incidents of molestation by Gogoi in her affidavit, both of which allegedly took place in October 2018, only days after he was appointed to India’s highest judicial office. After she refused his alleged sexual advances, the former employee writes, she and her family faced “consistent persecution,” including the loss of their jobs and subsequently, arrest and torture in police custody. “I say that the CJI has misused his position, office and authority and abused his clout and power to influence the police,” she writes. “I have been victimised for resisting and refusing the unwanted sexual advances of the CJI and my entire family has also been victimised and harassed due to that.”
Along with her affidavit, the former employee also sent the judges copies of video recordings of several incidents she refers to in the document—in particular, that a Delhi Police official accompanied her to the CJI’s residence in January this year, where she was asked to apologise to his wife. The videos also indicate that Rajnath Singh, the union home minister, and Amulya Patnaik, the commissioner of the Delhi Police, were made aware of the incident at least as early as 11 January 2019.
In the affidavit, the former employee describes how, in the months preceding his ascension to the post of CJI, Gogoi took a special interest in her professional and personal life, eventually transferring her to his residential office on Tees January Marg, where she was asked to work with him at close quarters. She writes that on two separate occasions, on consecutive days, the CJI touched her and embraced her against her will. During one such incident, “I was forced to push him away with my hands,” she states. The former employee further writes that Gogoi instructed her to not speak about the alleged incidents with anyone, and threatened her with dire consequences if she did so.
In the four weeks following the alleged incidents, the former employee was transferred thrice to different sections within the Supreme Court. Towards the end of November, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against her. She was accused of having “acted in a manner prejudicial to discipline” for expressing her anxiety regarding her frequent transfers; trying to “bring influence and exert pressure from unacceptable quarters” for approaching a colleague to ask if a lack in her abilities had resulted in these frequent postings; and showing “insubordination, lack of devotion to duty and indiscipline” by taking a casual leave on a Saturday. She was dismissed from the Supreme Court on 21 December 2018. By the end of that year, her husband and his brother, both of whom worked with the Delhi Police, were also suspended from their respective jobs.
In March this year, Naveen Kumar, a resident of Jhajjar, Haryana, lodged a complaint against the former employee at Tilak Marg police station in Delhi, on the basis of which the police registered a first information report. According to Kumar, the former employee had defrauded him of Rs 50,000, which he claimed she took as part of a bribe, promising him a job at the Supreme Court in exchange. In her affidavit, the former employee termed Kumar’s charges as being “false, malicious and premeditated to harass and terrorise me and my family.” On 8 March, five days after the registration of the FIR, a team of policemen from the Tilak Marg police station arrived at the ancestral home of the former employee’s husband, in Rajasthan, where she was staying at the time, to take her into custody. She writes in her affidavit that when she went to the the police station the next day, as directed, accompanied by her family members, the police subjected them to torturous treatment: the SHO, she writes, handcuffed one of her legs to a sitting bench for a whole night, kicked her and verbally abused her. After that, she was sent to Tihar Jail for a day. The former employee was granted bail on 12 March. The next hearing in her case will be at the Patiala House Court today.