Day 3 Arguments (Morning)

Sexual Harassment & the CJI

April 24th 2019

A three-judge Bench comprising Justices Arun Misra, Rohington Nariman, and Deepak Gupta of the Supreme Court is looking into the claims made by Advocate Utsav Bains that the allegations made by a former Junior Officer of the Court alleging sexual harassment by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi are fabricated and motivated by a larger conspiracy to undermine the independence of the Judiciary by corporate persons and corrupt political leaders.


Utsav Bains was present in court today and submitted certain documents in a sealed cover. He informed the Bench that he was submitting material evidence including CCTV footage. He said he was submitting them in a sealed cover as the persons involved in the conspiracy had earlier attempted to influence witnesses in case. Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Nariman perused the material submitted by Mr. Bains, which also includes a fresh affidavit.


Having gone through the contents of the sealed cover Justice Misra asked the Attorney General, Mr. K.K. Venugopal whether it was possible for a responsible investigating officer, preferably the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to be present before the Bench in the judges’ chambers today. Mr. Venugopal agreed to ensure the same and further sought the permission to place before the Court certain material from a Facebook post that was authored by Mr. Bains on April 20th. He proceeded to read the contents of the post, submitting that there was a significant departure by Mr. Bains in his affidavit which made no mention of the “lobby of disgruntled judges” that were alleged to have participated in the plot to frame the Chief Justice as per the Facebook post.


What followed was sharp response by Mr. Bains who said the Attorney General was making a very serious allegation. He further voiced his disappointment with the Bar and the “cheap” tactics employed by them. At which point Mr. Tushar Mehta (Solicitor General) asked Mr. Bains to refrain from using such improper language, being an officer of the court. Justice Mishra intervened asking Mr. Bains to maintain his cool.


Mr. Tushar Mehta suggested the constitution of an SIT under the supervision of the Court. However, this was opposed by Mr. Bains who argued that there could only be a judicial inquiry into the issue concerning the independence of the judiciary, given the sensitive evidence involved.


Returning to the issue at hand, the Bench directed Mr. Mehta to provide Police protection to Mr. Bains which would continue until any further orders of the court. The Bench noted that the case had raised some serious concerns regarding the independence of the judiciary and whether the same could be compromised owing to external forces as alleged by Ms. Bains. It accordingly directed that the Director of the CBI along with the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau and the Commissioner of the Delhi Police be present in chambers at 12:30 PM.


The Bench stated it would reassemble to hear the case at 3 PM.


Note: The Bench declined to hear Ms. Indira Jaising, stating that it was not the appropriate time to intervene. Ms. Jaising submitted that she too had a stake in the independence of the judiciary and was trying to raise an equally important issue that also required  the Court’s attention. Ms. Jaising was asked to wait to make her submissions at the appropriate stage.