A woman additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior who resigned alleging sexual harassment by a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge has objected to the composition of the inquiry committee that will hold a preliminary inquiry into the allegation.
Objecting the presence of Justice Ajit Singh as the head of the two-member inquiry committee, the former woman judge said Justice Singh was one of the two judges who took the decision to transfer her to Sidhi, to which she had objected.
“While I am willing to make myself available for a preliminary inquiry, I have strong objections to the constitution of the committee. Justice Ajit Singh, who is heading the committee, was one of the judges who took the decision to transfer me to Sidhi, to which I am objecting,” she said.
The woman judge said this in a letter to the inquiry committee secretary. Copies of the letter were sent to Chief Justice of India Justice R.M. Lodha and the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
“It is my contention that the transfer was a measure of punishment for my resisting sexual advances made to me by the high court judge in question. Hence, it is an act of victimisation which led to my resignation under duress. He is therefore disqualified on the grounds of bias from being the member of the committee,” the woman judge said, expressing inability to appear before the inquiry committee scheduled to meet Aug 19.
In her eight-page letter, the woman judge said: “That apart, the high court judge in question by whom I was sexually harassed is till this day discharging judicial and administrative functions over the staff, who were working with me and who have been witness to the victimisation and the harassment that was let loose on me.”
“So long as he continues to discharge judicial and administrative functions, my witnesses will not be able to offer their comments in a free and fair manner,” she said.
“Moreover, it is his conduct that is being inquired into and in these circumstances, haggis continuation as a high court judge will prejudice the inquiry.
“Being in a position of power, he is in the position to influence staff and colleagues.
“Even otherwise, it is the norm that a person whose conduct is being inquired into is put under suspension and being a judge of the high court, since he can’t be put under suspension, he ought not to be assigned work or permitted to perform administrative functions. Only then can inquiry be considered free and fair,” the letter said.