Denying any sexual harassment of a young woman law intern, former Supreme Court judge Justice A K Ganguly on Friday said he was “shocked and shattered” by the charges against him.
“I am denying everything. I have told the committee that all the allegations levelled by the intern are wrong. I don’t know how such allegations have been levelled against me,” he told mediapersons.
He was giving his reaction after an apex court official released a statement that Justice Ganguly had recorded his statement before a three-judge committee that went into the intern’s allegations and has submitted its report to the Chief Justice of India.
The apex court official statement said Justice Ganguly had recorded his statement to the three-judge committee headed by Justice R M Lodha.
The report was handed over to CJI Justice P Sathasivam on Thursday. “I totally deny the allegations. I am a victim of situations,” he told television channels. “I am not ashamed of anything,” he said in reply to a question in regard to the alleged episode which came out in public domain after the intern spoke about in a legal portal earlier this month.
He said the charges against him were totally wrong. The girl had not raised any sexual harassment issue with him, he said, adding that he had not done any physical harm to her.
The former judge said the intern worked with him though she was not officially allocated to him. She came in the place of another intern who had gone abroad after marriage. “I never put up a poster. She came on her own.” He said the girl had come to his house on a number of occasions in connection with the work.
Asked about the charge that he had asked her to come to a hotel room, Justice Ganguly said he was in Delhi at that point of time in connection with work and she was also in Delhi.
“I know what she has said. The question is that when I was in Delhi she was also in Delhi. She came on her own to my…,” he said. “If anybody feels uncomfortable to work with me she was free to leave,” he said, adding that there was inconsistency that she has respect for him and there was no rancour.
He said that the intern was like his child and he treated her that way. Asked if he was worried whether the three-judge committee will pass strictures against him, he said, “I don’t know what kind of strictures will be there.”
To another question if he felt that the committee could have preconceived notions about him, he said,”I am not saying anything.” Asked whether the allegations have cast a shadow on him, he said, he has faith in people and the people will judge him by his “conduct” and by his judicial work.
Justice Ganguly, who demitted office on 12th February last year, said that if this trend continues it will be difficult for the upright judges to continue to work.
“I have worked with several interns in my life, a large number of them and I treat them like my children. They are all well placed in several places in their lives and nobody has made such allegations. I am shocked and shattered.”
He said that his case be not compared with that of Tarun Tejpal. “Don’t compare this case with Tejpal. Please,” he told to a television channel. To a question if asked to prove …, Justice Ganguly shot back “how can I prove the negative.”
The apex court committee recorded the statement of Justice Ganguly, who is at present heading West Bengal Human Rights Commission, after recording the statement of the law intern.
“The committee constituted to inquire into the allegations of sexual harassment levelled by the law intern against a former SC judge held its meetings on November 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27. “The statement of law intern was recorded. She had also submitted three affidavits. The statement of Mr. Justice (retired) A K Ganguly has also been recorded by the committee. The committee has submitted its report to the CJI on 28th November,” the official said in a statement.
The official, however, did not give any details of the findings of the committee comprising Justices R M Lodha, H L Dattu, and Ranjana Prakash Desai which was constituted by the CJI on 12th November.
Hit by allegations of sexual misbehaviour by one of its judges, the Supreme Court constituted a three-judge committee to go into the charge of a woman intern that she was sexually harassed last December by the judge. Justice Ganguly was elevated to Supreme Court on 17th December, 2008 and superannuated on 3rd February, 2012.
The intern, in a blog, had accused the retired judge of having misbehaved with her in a hotel room last December when the nation was grappling with the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in the capital. On 18th November, the intern appeared before the panel and gave details of the incident and on 21st November, she had sent certain applications and affidavits to the panel.
While setting up the panel on 12th November, Justice Sathasivam had observed that he was concerned as head of the institution (judiciary). “In the cases of sexual harassment, we cannot take it lightly,” the CJI had said.
The young woman intern had first come out in public by writing her experience and ordeal in a blog of NGO ‘Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment’, with which she has been working. She has also got support and solidarity from her employer NGO.