NEWS
24/04/2019 2:55 PM IST

CJI Ranjan Gogoi Sexual Harassment Case: SC Summons CBI, IB, Delhi Police Chiefs

The three-judge special bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said the entire episode is “very disturbing” as it concerns the independence of the judiciary in the country

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court Wednesday directed chiefs of the CBI, IB and Delhi Police to appear and meet in chambers the three judges who are hearing a lawyer’s claim that there was a larger conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

The entire episode is “very disturbing” as it concerns the independence of the judiciary in the country, a three-judge special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said.

The bench also comprising justices RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta turned down a fervent request of Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to order a court-monitored SIT probe into the matter, saying the court was not venturing into any enquiry at this moment.

“It is not an enquiry. We are meeting these officers in secret. We don’t want any evidence to be disclosed,” the bench said. It had asked the three officers to meet the judges in chamber at 12:30 pm.

The bench said after meeting the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Delhi Police commissioner, it will reassemble at 3 pm to hear the matter again.

At the outset advocate Utsav Singh Bains, who has filed an affidavit in the top court claiming a larger conspiracy of alleged fixers to frame the CJI on allegations of sexual harassment, placed before the bench material to substantiate his claims.

The bench after perusing the material, placed by him in a sealed cover, said “very disturbing” facts have emerged in the matter.

“Can you call some responsible officers from the CBI, preferably the director? Can you call him to meet us in our chambers?” Justice Mishra told Attorney General Venugopal.

Venugopal replied in the affirmative and replied on the April 20 Facebook post of Bains in which he had claimed that there was a larger conspiracy by some people to fix verdicts of the Supreme Court and malign the office of the CJI.

Solicitor General Mehta told the bench that he was very disturbed with the allegations against the CJI as well as claims made by the lawyer and said this concerns the judiciary in the country.

“My submission is that let a special investigation team (SIT) be constituted under the supervision of this court. The truth must come out in the investigation monitored by the court. This will inspire confidence,” Mehta said.

Venugopal also supported Mehta’s submission and said a thorough enquiry should be conducted in the matter.

However, Justice Mishra said this is a “sensitive issue” and CJI Gogoi has also taken action in the matter.

“This action has been taken by the CJI for the first time in the history of India. This was happening around in the past also but no CJI had the courage to do this,” he said, adding that the CJI is taking the action “without any fear.”

The bench said full protection should be given to Bains as the court doesn’t want evidence to be destroyed or compromised.

At the fag end of the hearing, Bains told the court that he has some more very important and very critical piece of evidence related to the mater and he be allowed to file an additional affidavit.

The bench allowed the request of Bains and said, “It should be handwritten and not typed.”

Bains had filed an affidavit following the unprecedented hearing on Saturday during which Justice Gogoi had said that some “bigger force” was behind the controversy as they wanted to “deactivate” the CJI’s office and he would not stoop too low even to deny these allegations.

The hearing on April 20 in the case, titled as a matter of “great public importance touching upon the independence of judiciary”, was held after stories were published on some news portals about the sexual harassment allegations levelled by a former employee of the apex court against the CJI.