Storm continues over #MeToo claims - GulfToday

Storm continues over #MeToo claims


Demonstrators hold placards during a protest in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday. Reuters

Several dozen employees of India’s highest court gathered on Wednesday to express support for the chief justice, days after an in-house inquiry cleared him of sexually assaulting a former staffer.

On Monday a three-judge panel — one of whom was a woman — concluded that accusations against 64-year-old Ranjan Gogoi had “no substance”, according to a press statement from the supreme court, prompting protests in Delhi and Bangalore.

Gogoi became the highest-profile figure to be caught up in India’s #MeToo backlash after being accused by a former staffer of twice making unwanted advances towards her.

The woman, 35, wrote a letter to the inquiry panel on Tuesday saying she was “shocked” by the findings of the report, which will not be made public — although it was submitted to a senior judge and to Gogoi.

“I find it rather strange that the complainant in a case of sexual harassment is not to be provided with a copy of the report which finds her complaint to be without substance”, she said.

Several women’s rights activists were detained on Tuesday during a demonstration outside the Supreme Court, one of India’s most respected institutions.

Wednesday’s small protest was in support of Gogoi. Last week, the woman said she was withdrawing from the inquiry as she was “not likely to get justice” from the panel.

In a letter, she said she found the “atmosphere of the committee very frightening” and that she felt “very nervous” as she was not allowed to be accompanied by her lawyer. Gogoi, who is due to retire in November after a year in the job, has called the allegations “unbelievable” and an attempt to malign his reputation.

Most of the staffers who spoke at the gathering said that they were under increasing pressure with public asking them questions in the wake of allegations appearing in media. Asserting it was an impromptu gathering as the registry staff wanted to dispel the misgivings about the integrity and transparency of its functioning, two women staffers, who had served in the home office of Chief Justice Gogoi for over two years each, said that they always found his approach towards them “fatherly”.

Two speakers who declined to be identified said that they were pained by all that was being said about the CJI and the top court.


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