A former law intern, who accused ex-Supreme Court judge A K Ganguly of sexual harassment, has hit back at him for denying the charges and hinted that she may file a police complaint.
"Those who have been spreading rumours and politicising the issue, are doing so out of prejudice and malice to obfuscate the issue and escape scrutiny and accountability," the intern wrote on her blog on Legally India.
Her comments came a day after Justice Ganguly had written an eight-page letter to Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, denying that he had sexually harassed the intern and alleging there was a "palpable design" to malign him because of the judgements he had given against "powerful quarters".
Indicating that she may lodge a police complaint, the intern said,"I request that it be acknowledged that I have the discernment to pursue appropriate proceedings at appropriate times. I ask that my autonomy be respected fully."
The intern said that any one claiming that her statements were false was showing disrespect not just to her but also to the Supreme Court.
"I would like to state that I have acted with utmost responsibility throughout, keeping in mind the seriousness of this situation," she said.
A three-judge Supreme Court panel had indicted Justice Ganguly by holding that the statement of the intern, both written and oral, had prima facie disclosed "an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature)" by the judge with her in the Le Meridien hotel room on December 24 last year.
In her rebuttal to Justice Ganguly's letter, the intern said that after the incident when she had returned to her college in Kolkata, she had spoken to some of her faculty at different times. "Since the incident occurred during an internship, and the university did not have a policy against sexual harassment of women students during internship, it was indicated to me that any action would be ineffective.
"I was also informed that the only route for me was to file a complaint with the police, which I was reluctant to do. However, I felt it was important to warn young law students that status and position should not be confused for standards of morality and ethics. Hence, I chose to do so via a blog post," she said.
The intern said that while deposing before the three-judge committee probing her allegation against Justice Ganguly, she had "sought confidentiality of proceedings keeping in mind the gravity of the situation, as well as the privacy of everyone involved".
"I did not question the jurisdiction or intent of the three-member judges' committee at any point, and had full faith that they would establish the truth of my statements," she said.
She said that the apex court panel had acted with great discretion given the delicate nature of the case and she appreciated it. The intern said after appearing before the panel on November 18 and giving an oral statement before it, she had also submitted to it a written statement signed by her.
On November 29, she had sent an affidavit to Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, disclosing to her details of sexual harassment and requested her to seek appropriate action.
The contents of the affidavit are substantially the same as the statements made by her before the panel, she said. "Even after the operative portion of the report of the committee, was made public, many eminent citizens and legal luminaries continued to deride the committee's findings, and malign me.
"Hence, I found it necessary to clarify the details of my statement to preserve my own dignity as well as that of the Supreme Court. Therefore, I authorised Indira Jaising, to make my statement public," the intern said.
In his letter to the Chief Justice of India, Justice Ganguly had also complained that the Supreme Court had not given him a proper hearing.
"There is a concerted move to tarnish my image as I had the unfortunate duty of rendering certain judgments against powerful interests. I see in the whole game a palpable design to malign me at the instance of interested quarters," the former Supreme Court judge said in the letter to the CJI.
Justice Ganguly was part of a bench, which had delivered various orders in 2G allocation scam including scrapping of 122 licenses granted by the Centre to telecom companies.
Justice Ganguly, who is under pressure to step down as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, denied allegations of sexually harassing or making unwelcome advances to the woman intern. "I have been distressed by some recent happenings. I am anguished that the Supreme Court under your Lordship did not address me correctly," Justice Ganguly said in his letter, which he said was also being forwarded to President Pranab Mukherjee.
The CJI's office in Delhi was not available for comments as he is on a vacation.
Questioning the validity of the panel, Justice Ganguly argued that since the intern was not on the rolls of the Supreme Court and he was a retired judge, the committee was "not required to be constituted".
"No complaint was ever made before the Supreme Court or before your Lordship in any form by the intern at any time prior to the formation of the judges' committee and presumably at the direction of the committee she gave her statement," he said.
In her affidavit to the panel, the intern had stated that the judge had called her to the hotel room on Christmas Eve to complete a report relating to the All India Football Federation. "The judge informed me that the AIFF report had to be submitted the next morning and asked me to stay at the hotel and work all night. I declined and told him that I had to finish the work quickly and return to the PG accommodation," she said.
At one stage, the judge took out a bottle of red wine. "He also said that since I had had a long day, I should go into his bedroom and relax while drinking some wine," the intern said.
"You are very beautiful," the judge went on to tell her. "I immediately rose from my seat, but before I had a chance to respond to the statement, he caught hold of my arm, saying, you know that I am attracted to you, don't you? ... but I really like you, I love you. When I tried to move away, he kissed my arm and repeated that he loved me," the intern said.
The judge has strongly refuted the intern's allegations.
Image: Justice Ganguly