Indian judges' panel clears chief justice of sexual harassment

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court on Monday said a panel of its judges had dismissed a complaint of sexual harassment made against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi by a former court employee, as it lacked substance.

FILE PHOTO: Ranjan Gogoi, a Supreme Court judge, gestures as he addresses the media at a news conference in New Delhi, India January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The case involving India’s most powerful judge is the most high-profile in a wave of allegations of sexual harassment that have been made public by women since last year as the #metoo movement has swept the country.

The 35-year-old woman said Gogoi had made unwanted sexual advances when she worked in an office at his home last year, and that she and her family were victimized after she spurned his advances.

Gogoi denied the allegations and a panel of judges cleared him of any wrongdoing.

“The in-house committee found no substance in the allegations contained in the complaint,” the Supreme Court’s secretary general said in a brief statement.

The woman’s identity has been withheld and her lawyer, Vrinda Grover, made no immediate comment. The woman had worked as a junior court assistant.

Last week, she said she would no longer participate in the proceedings of the panel of judges investigating the case as she did not expect justice.

In a statement, she said she was not allowed to have her representative present despite impaired hearing and anxiety.

She also said there was no video or audio recording made, and she was not given a copy of her statements on the case from previous days.

In its statement, the Supreme Court said the panel’s report had been submitted to a senior judge of the court as well as to the chief justice, without elaborating. The report will not be made public, it said.

Gogoi and the members of the panel were not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty and Zeba Siddiqui in New Delhi; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez

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