The Supreme Court Tuesday set up a committee of judges to go into a newspaper report in which a law graduate from Kolkata has alleged sexual harassment by a now retired Supreme court judge while she interned with him in December last year. Soon after lunch break, Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, heading the three-member bench, said they had seen the report and that judges R.M. Lodha, H.L. Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai will study the matter. “I have constituted a committee of three judges to go into the correctness of the report,” Chief Justice Sathasivam said as the attorney general moved a petition drawing the court’s attention to the report of alleged sexual harassment by a former judge of the Supreme Court. Justice Sathasivam said: “We have to first inquire into the correctness of the report.” He said the committee would commence its probe Tuesday evening itself while issuing notice to the parties concerned. Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said the court had taken the cases of sexual harassment “very seriously. I have filed a petition and the court should go into it. Such a serious allegation should not go undecided”. The chief justice said: “We have framed our own guidelines (to deal with complaints of sexual harassment by anyone within its premises of the Supreme court).
“We asked the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association to name their representatives on the proposed committee but they have not responded. “Because of their inaction, we have not constituted a committee,” Chief Justice Sathasivam told the court. The student of the Kolkata-based National University of Judicial Sciences (NUJS) first alleged sexual harassment Nov 6 in a blog for Journal of Indian Law and Society. She repeated the allegation in an interview to Legally India web site. The young lawyer, now working with “Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and Environment”, said that besides herself she had heard of three other young women who too were sexually harassed by the same judge. She claimed to have knowledge of another four women who were allegedly harassed by other judges in their chambers.