KOLKATA, January 6, 2014: Former Supreme Court judge, Justice A.K. Ganguly, who has been accused of sexual assault by a law intern, resigned on Monday from the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC).
Earlier on Monday, Justice Ganguly had distanced himself from a public interest litigation (PIL) petition that was filed in the Supreme Court supporting him.
The PIL was filed by Delhi-based doctor M Padma Narayan Singh in the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to restrain the government from taking any action against Justice Ganguly. But the Supreme Court rejected the petition on Monday.
The petitioner had also sought a quashing of the report in which a three-member panel of Supreme Court judges indicted Justice Ganguly for unwelcome behaviour against the woman law intern.
The three-judge Supreme Court committee probing the complaint filed by the law intern against Justice Ganguly said that there was prima facie evidence.
The three-judge panel, which heard testimonies submitted its report to the Chief Justice of India, P. Sathasivam, naming Justice Ganguly as the accused.
It is the first time that the Supreme Court has set up an internal inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against a presiding or former judge.
Justice Ganguly is the Chairman of Human Rights Commission in West Bengal and has presided over numerous cases involving crimes against women during his career as a judge.
The intern’s allegations created a media furore — with female lawyers, politicians and activists calling for the country’s top court to investigate the incident and for the accused judge to be named publicly.
The case is one of a small but growing number in which victims of alleged sexual harassment have come forward to complain about powerful male superiors.
Activists say sexual harassment and abuse by powerful and privileged men is widespread in India, but few women have been willing to talk about it.
Ganguly undecided on resigning, dissociates from SC petition
Amid speculation that he is likely to resign as chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) Justice (retd) Ashok Kumar Ganguly maintained his earlier stand on the issue on Monday.
Speaking to The Hindu Justice Ganguly said that he is “yet to decide” on his resignation from the WBHRC.
The retired Supreme Court judge who was in New Delhi on Sunday returned to the city early in the morning and attended office at the State’s human rights panel.
Asked about the comments made by Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General that he is contemplating resigning from WBHRC Justice Ganguly replied, “I will not comment on the issue”.
Justice Ganguly dissociated himself from the petition filed in the Supreme Court to restrain the Centre from removing him as the chairperson of WBHRC. “I have nothing to with it (the petition)”, he said.
In a petition moved before the Supreme Court last week, the petitioner had alleged that Justice Ganguly was a victim of a conspiracy because as an arbitrator he had decided on a matter between All India Football Federation and Mohan Bagan, a prominent sports club of city.
“I am a supporter of Mohun Bagan. I have nothing against the club,” Justice Ganguly said.
Ever since the three -judge panel of the Supreme Court held last month that allegations of sexual harassment by a woman law intern against him disclose prima facie an act of unwelcome behaviour Justice Ganguly has been under pressure from several quarters to quit as the chairperson of WBHRC.
Earlier this month the Union Cabinet gave its nod for a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court to remove him from the State’s human rights panel.
SC dismisses PIL to say proceedings
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a PIL seeking its direction to stay all proceedings against its former judge A K Ganguly, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment.
A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the PIL, saying that it cannot interfere in the issue at this stage and law will take its course in the matter.
“We have gone through every word of your averments and prayers. We are not inclined to go into it. Its too early to say anything about it,” the bench said, adding that “let the law take its own course“.
The court was hearing a PIL, filed by a woman doctor and Delhi resident M Padma Narayan Singh, seeking quashing of the complaint on which a three-member panel of apex court judge indicted Justice Ganguly, Chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, for unwelcome behaviour against a law intern.
The petitioner, who is a senior citizen, alleged that Ganguly has become a victim of conspiracy as he, as an arbitrator, had decided a matter between a prominent football club of Kolkata and All India Football Federation (AIFF) in which the intern had also participated.
The bench also dismissed another similar PIL filed on the issue.