In a severe dent to the image of higher judiciary, a woman additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior has quit her job accusing a judge of the Madhya Pradesh high court of sexual harassment, a charge he has rejected and offered to face death penalty if found true.
Accusing a judge of the Gwalior bench of the high court of seeking sexual favours from her, the woman judge has written to the Chief Justice of India explaining the reasons that forced her to resign from judicial service.
Rejecting the charges made by the woman judge, who also headed the district-level committee to look into sexual harassment at the workplace, the high court judge on Monday wrote a letter to Chief Justice R M Lodha offering to face any probe by any agency including an investigating agency.
“I have highest regard to the institution and (am) concerned about the image of the institution. On repetition, I again say that I do not want any trial by any court.”
Offering to face a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry or a probe by any agency, he said if any allegation against him is found true, “I am ready to face any penalty, even the death penalty”. “In regard to the woman judge and even in regard to any lady, an investigation can also be done whether I have ever harassed or abused any of the lady employees or any subordinate judge,” the judge said in his two-page letter to the CJI.
The woman judge, in her letter to CJI, narrates a number of instances in which she was the subject of the judge’s “foul and malicious intentions”.
“Call it a woman’s intuition but I was very cautious and disturbed. I ignored him and kept doing my work,” she said, adding some of the words used by the judge made her feel ashamed.
She also referred to the alleged harassment by three judicial officers on the orders of the high court judge. The woman judge said even after suffering all the harassment from the three judicial officers on the instructions of the judge, “I had not submitted to the evil demand of the judge and kept on doing my work with all dedication and sincerity”.
She said she had discussed the matter with her husband and when the judge called her in the evening of June 21 asking her to meet him at his bungalow in the late hours, she preferred to go there with her husband the next day morning.
Seeing her husband with her, the high court judge became very irritated and asked them to meet him after 15 days.
In the letter to CJI, the woman judge said the high court judge along with another judicial officer made a “false, frivolous, baseless and malicious reporting” to the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh and got her transferred to a remote place Sidhi last month in the middle of the academic session of her daughter by overruling the transfer policy of the high court. She said she made representation to the registrar general and prayed for extension of eight months in the present place to complete the academic session of her daughter which was in line with the transfer policy of the high court. But it was declined.
When finding her transfer would disrupt the studies and future of her std XII daughter, the woman judge thought there may be still some humanity left in the system. So, she called on the high court judge and asked him about the transfer which would spoil the career of the child and disturb the family.
“Mockingly, he replied that I have faced the result of this mid-academic transfer to Sidhi for not fulfilling his aspirations and for not visiting his bungalow alone even once. Also, he threatened me that now he will spoil my career completely and make sure that I will face ruinous prospects all my life,” the woman judge said in the letter to CJI.
Shocked by this response, the woman judge talked to another judge who asked her to have faith in the system and file for reconsideration of the decision. She said when she was “refused” appointment by the High Court Chief Justice and “left with no option” but to resign, she “resigned on July 15 in compelling, humiliating and disgraceful circumstances to save my dignity, womanhood, self esteem and career of my daughter”.
The woman judge sought from the CJI appropriate action after fact-finding and reconsidering the circumstances under which she was “coerced” forcing her to resign.
“Please, institute an appropriate mechanism for redressal of grievances like the above of subordinate services judicial officers,” she said in the letter.
Reacting to media reports in this regard, the high court judge said in his letter to CJI that the allegations against him “are totally false”. He said in June this year when he was in Delhi, he got a call from the woman judge who told her that she was being harassed by a judicial officer. He told her that he was on vacation and she could meet him when he was back in Gwalior.
“When I came to Gwalior after vacation I gave a ring to her. Thereafter, she along with her husband visited my residence at 11 am. She told me about her grievance (about the judicial officer). I told her I would find out what is the reason. Thereafter, I called the district judge and enquired the matter. Except these two, I have never made any contact (with the woman judge). I neither phoned her nor sent any message. It can be verified from my call details or any other method as your lordship may think proper,” the high court judge said in his letter to CJI.
“Shocking allegations have been made in the complaint (by the woman judge). I am ready to face any probe by CBI or any agency and if any allegation be found proved, I am ready to even face death penalty. During my whole tenure I have never contacted any subordinate woman officer. It can be verified from any source,” he said.
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