India’s top judge sees wider plot behind sexual misconduct charges

The independence of Indian judiciary is under threat, said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, above right, at a special session of the Supreme Court on Saturday after a former employee with a criminal background accused him of sexual misconduct and persecution.

Calling the allegations unbelievable, Gogoi said there must be bigger force behind them conspiring to deactivate the office of the Chief Justice of India.

Gogoi noted that the allegations are being levelled against him because he is hearing a sensitive case next week.

The special court session was called because things had gone too far and the judiciary cannot be made a scapegoat.

Gogoi, who is set to retire in November, said he has to decide several pending cases in the days ahead and he will discharge his judicial functions without fear or favour.

The woman who made the allegations has a “criminal background” with “two FIRs (first information reports) against her”, he said.

The apex court’s Secretary General Sanjeev Kalgaonkar described the woman’s allegations as baseless adding that while in office, she had no opportunity to interact directly with the Chief Justice.

The affidavit, which she sent to some 22 Supreme Court judges, was mischievous and an afterthought of her to make these false allegations now, he said.

The details of the affidavit were published by four online media outlets on Friday evening.

The court said media must act responsibly and exercise restraint so that the independence of judiciary is not affected by such false charges.

A special bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was set up by Gogoi to hear the case.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, used to work as a junior court assistant. In her letter to the judges, she described two incidents of alleged misconduct by Gogoi in October last year, days after he was appointed as the top judge.

She was dismissed from service last year for an inappropriate behaviour.

Next week, the Supreme Court is set to hear a contempt of court case against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.