The government on Thursday approved a proposal for sending a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court for conducting a probe into an allegation of sexual harassment against retired apex court judge A K Ganguly.
The Union Cabinet has given its nod to the home ministry's proposal for sending a Presidential reference to the Chief Justice of India, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters.
The decision, taken at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, came after the home ministry placed the views of Attorney General G E Vahanvati, who has noted that a case can be made out against Ganguly following allegations of "unwelcome behaviour" towards a law intern, sources said.
The proposal will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, who will then send the matter to the Chief Justice of India, seeking a probe into the issue based on the three points raised in the reference.
The Attorney General's suggestions came after his views were invited on a letter to the President by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee -- seeking Ganguly's removal as chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission -- following the intern's allegation of sexual harassment.
Justice Ganguly has strongly denied the charge and refused to quit his post.
Sources said the Attorney General had been asked to give his views on whether any case can be made out on three issues -- allegation of sexual harassment against Ganguly, his visit to Pakistan without informing the West Bengal government and taking an assignment of arbitration from the All India Football Federation despite holding a high post at the human rights body.
The Protection of Human Rights Act is clear that a chairperson or member of NHRC or a state human rights commission can only be removed "by order of the President of India on the grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on enquiry... reported that the Chairperson or the member, as the case may be, ought on any such ground to be removed".