Surbhi said she did not want to receive the award from CJI Gogoi because of the manner in which the Supreme Court handled the case in which a female employee had accused the CJI of sexually harassing her
National Law University (NLU) topper Surbhi Karwa skipped her convocation on August 17 to mark her protest over the Supreme Court’s handling of the sexual harassment charges against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
When her name was called out to receive the gold medal for standing first in her LLM class at NLU, New Delhi, university registrar GS Bajpai announced, “Unfortunately, she is not here. We will award her the medal in absentia,” The Indian Express reported.
Even though Surbhi knew that she would be receiving the medal, the likelihood of her receving it from CJI Gogoi prompted her to skip the event.
“Everything I learnt in the classroom put me in a moral quandary over the last few weeks on whether I should receive the award from CJI Gogoi. The institution he heads failed when sexual harassment allegations were made against him,” Surbhi told the newspaper.
Surbhi stated that she did not want to receive the award from CJI Gogoi because of the manner in which the Supreme Court handled the case in which a female employee had accused the CJI of sexually harassing her.
Surbhi, however, made it clear that her not attending the convocation does not mean that she is refusing to accept the award.
Surbhi specialised in Constitutional law for her Master’s degree and her thesis is a feminist critique of the Constituent assembly debates. “Is the Constitution a feminist document?” is the central question probed in her thesis, the publication reported.
In April this year, a female employee, in a 29-page-affidavit, had accused the CJI of making inappropriate advances at her and dismissing her when she resisted. However, an in-house investigation committee ruled that there was “no substance” in her claims.
By boycotting the convocation, Surbhi said she was following what CJI Gogoi had said in his speech at the event – “Say no and a big no to anything and everything that appear to your mind to be morally and actually regressive. Say yes to everything which you think can be offered to anybody.”
The Chief Justice of India is the de-facto Visitor of NLU while the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court is the Chancellor.This time, CJI Gogoi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia were the chief guests. Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel delivered the commencement speech.