NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court has set up a committee of three judges headed by Justice RM Lodha to verify a law student’s allegation that she was sexually harassed in a hotel room on the eve of Christmas 2012 when she was doing internship with an apex court judge, who is now retired. A Bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam gave this information to Attorney General GE Vahanvati, who moved the court terming the allegation as an extremely serious matter and seeking action. “We are also anxious to know whether or not the allegation is true,” the Bench, which included Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh, told the AG who mentioned the issue at 2.20 pm. The other members of the committee that would go into the issue are Justices HL Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai. “Let them go into it. Based on their report, we will take action,” the CJI assured the AG. “The committee is going to issue notice to all concerned persons this evening itself. First, we have to assess the correctness of the allegation,” the CJI said. The AG said speculations over the judge in question “must stop”. According to the victim, she had “heard” that the judge in question had misbehaved with three other girls while at least four others had faced harassment at the hands of other judges, but not to the extent of her ordeal. The other incidents had taken place in judges’ chambers in the presence of other people.
She did not identify the judge who had harassed her or the other judges. The victim had written on November 6 about the ordeal she had undergone on December 24, 2012 in a blog. She graduated from Kolkata’s National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) this year and is a fellow with an organisation called ‘Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment’. “Last December was momentous for the feminist movement in the country – almost an entire population seemed to rise up spontaneously against the violence on women, and the injustices of a seemingly apathetic government. In the strange irony of situations that our world is replete with, the protests were the backdrop of my own experience. “In Delhi at that time, interning during the winter vacations of my final year in university, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highlyreputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester. “For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather. I won’t go into the gory details, suffice it to say that long after I’d left the room, the memory remained, in fact, still remains, with me,” she wrote. She said the incident had taken place in a hotel room. People “saw me walking in voluntarily, saw me walking out very calmly. I didn’t even walk out fear. At that moment I felt I need to walk out very calmly. I never mentioned anything the same day to anybody,” she said in an interview to the website ‘Legally India’.