Ensure accountability in Judiciary
Implement the POSH Act effectively in the complaint against CJI by SC ex employee
THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), in a statement issued on May 16, has expressed serious concern at the recent developments and actions by the Supreme Court following the complaint by a former woman employee of the Supreme Court against the Chief Justice of India.
CITU feels that the procedures required as per the POSH (Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 have not been followed in letter and spirit in the case.
First of all, the highest forum of judiciary does not have an ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) as mandated by the Act. The procedure for dealing with a case of sexual harassment, particularly when it concerns someone in a high public position, needs to be credible and transparent. It is regrettable that this did not happen in this case.
The ‘In house Committee’ set up by the apex court was not in accordance with the law. It did not have an independent outside representative. This was pointed out by several women’s organisations, legal rights groups, and lawyers’ forums. The request of the complainant to allow her lawyer or a support person to be present was also turned down. Even after her withdrawal from the proceedings alleging unfair and intimidating behaviour, the committee went ahead and gave its finding that there was ‘no substance’ in the complaint. Surprisingly, the complainant was not even given a copy of the report of the “In-House Committee” which exonerated the CJI while the CJI was sent a copy.
CITU affirms that it is necessary that the Supreme Court uphold the principles of transparency, ethics and values to ensure delivery of justice to the weakest sections in our democracy, as envisaged by our constitution, and to prevent erosion of the judiciary’s credibility. The Supreme Court of India must uphold the guidelines of the Vishakha judgment and the POSH Act on sexual harassment at workplace even in the case of a Supreme Court judge.
CITU demands that appropriate laws and guidelines must be enacted against sexual harassment to include all workplaces including judiciary and legislature and all persons in its purview to ensure justice to all victims.