The Hindu, Dec 24, 2013
“Status and position should not be confused for standards of morality and ethics in public life”
The law intern has again clarified that her intention in narrating, though belatedly, the “sexual harassment she suffered at the hands of the former Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly” is to warn young law students that status and position should not be confused for standards of morality and ethics in public life.
Noting that Justice Ganguly had written a letter to the Chief Justice of India on Monday and that several questions had been raised in the past few weeks, the intern said on Tuesday, “I think it is appropriate at this stage for me to answer some of them.”
On the timing and intent of her revelation on the blog, she said: “After the incident [on December 24, 2012], when I returned to college, NUJS Kolkata, I spoke to some of my faculty about the incident 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.”
On her deposition before the Supreme Court-appointed panel, she said: “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. I sought confidentiality of proceedings keeping in mind the gravity of the situation as well as the privacy of everyone involved. The Committee acted with great discretion given the delicate nature of the case and I appreciate that. On November 18, I appeared in person before the Committee and gave [a] oral and written statement and I signed it.”
On Justice Ganguly’s allegation about release of her affidavit dated November 29 [whereas the final report of the committee was released on November 28], the intern said: “On November 29, I sent an affidavit, signed and sworn on the same day, to Ms. Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor-General, disclosing to her the details of my sexual harassment, and requested her to seek appropriate action. The contents of the affidavit are substantially the same as the statements made by me before the Committee.”
The law intern said that even after the operative portion of the panel report 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 Ms. Indira Jaising to make my statement public. At this stage, I believe that anyone claiming that my statements are false is showing disrespect not just to me but also to the Supreme Court of India.”
On filing 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.”
‘It’s media trial’
Kolkata Staff Reporter reports:
Meanwhile, a Kolkata-based men’s right organisation has written to President Pranab Mukherjee stating that asking Justice Ganguly to quit as West Bengal Human Rights Commission chief is a gross violation of fundamental rights.
“Media trial and the biased approach of feminist organisations have self-righteously considered Justice Ganguly guilty based on mere accusation of a female,” said the National Coalition of Men.
Stating that Justice Ganguly’s resignation would set a wrong precedent, general secretary Amit Gupta asked if he forced to quit, why should MPs and MLAs facing criminal charges be spared?
Members of the organisation staged a demonstration outside the office of the WBHRC.
Those demanding his resignation also hit the streets. The Trinamool Congress-backed All India Legal Aid Forum, an organisation comprising lawyers, took out a rally from the Gandhi statue on Mayo Road to the WBHRC office.