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SC issues notice to Govt, ex-judge on sexual harassment petition | The Indian Express

Related. Stressing that it was not expressing any opinion on a former law intern’s allegation that retired Justice Swatanter Kumar had sexually harassed her when he was a Supreme Court judge, the apex court Wednesday issued notices to Kumar, the registrar general of the court and the Union of India on the woman’s petition seeking an inquiry into the case. The former intern has also asked the SC to constitute a permanent mechanism to deal with sexual harassment cases at the work-place in judicial bodies. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam and comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh also appointed senior advocates Fali S Nariman and P P Rao as amicus curiae and directed Attorney General G E Vahanvati to assist it in the matter. When the hearing began, the bench asked senior lawyer Harish Salve, who was appearing for the former intern, why the woman had come out against the alleged sexual harassment so late. “Why she waited so long? Our apprehension is that even after 20 years when the judge reaches the age of 90 years, complaint can be filed,” the bench observed. Salve replied that once a mechanism is set up to deal with such cases, people will then file the complaint within a reasonable time. He also said the court could fix the timeframe within which a person can complain. The bench said it was inclined to consider these aspects and asked the Centre to file its response within four weeks and posted the case for February 14. “It is made clear at the moment we are not expressing any opinion on the averments made in the petition,” the court added. The former intern has also challenged the apex court’s December 5, 2013 resolution in which it was decided that no complaint against its retired judges would be entertained. Pointing out that Kumar was a serving judge at the time of the alleged incident, she has said the SC must look into the complaint as per Vishaka guidelines to deal with complaints of sexual harassment at work place. The woman has also sought the constitution of a committee headed by a woman with an external member to inquire into the complaint filed by her to the CJI.
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