Accused Harasser and Former CJI Gogoi Nominated to Rajya Sabha
Late last night, President Ram Nath Kovind nominated former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, as a member of eminence — within six months of his retirement from a rather eventful term, according to a government notification.
Gogoi has accepted the nomination, ANI reports, and plans to travel to Delhi tomorrow to take his oath.
The summer of 2019 witnessed the then-CJI make an absolute mockery of the judicial process upon being accused of sexual harassment. A former junior court assistant accused him of two incidents of molestation that took place soon after he assumed the position of CJI in October 2018. She further alleged that upon her refusal of his sexual advances, she and her family faced consistent persecution, including loss of jobs and torture in police custody.
The complainant, according to her sworn affidavit to 22 Supreme Court judges, wrote: “I have been victimized for resisting and refusing the unwanted sexual advances of the CJI and my entire family has also been victimized and harassed due to that.” The CJI, in an acutely unethical move, then chaired a hearing to address the accusations against himself prior to recusing himself from the matter.
Not-very-surprisingly, Gogoi, who continued to remain the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, got away with a clean chit from the committee comprising other judges, while the woman has said that she continued to live in fear of potential retaliation after the justice system failed her so miserably.
In the furor that ensued, protestors across the country took to the streets to voice their concerns using the hashtag #SupremeInjustice.
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Now, the President is well within the bounds of established law to appoint Gogoi, or anyone else “having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art, and social service,” to the Rajya Sabha under Article 80 of the Indian Constitution, yes. But, one might wonder whether this instance merely reflects the indifference of the government towards issues as grave as sexual harassment perpetrated by an individual in a position of power, who then used this same power to avoid an independent inquiry into his actions.
Are we seriously looking to reward a man accused of sexual harassment less than a year ago with a grand political career in the post-#MeToo climate?
In 2020 itself, the central government has already sparked distrust in the hearts of lakhs of citizens with its hate politics. Now, with the nomination of Gogoi to the Rajya Sabha, it is sending a message of utter disregard to half the country’s population: women.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the former CJI chaired a hearing to address the accusations against himself. Although he had chaired a hearing on the matter before recusing himself, a three-member in-house committee including the then-senior-most judge after Gogoi, Justice Bobde, had investigated the allegations of sexual harassment.