ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Uphold Justice and Fairness

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We are activists from women’s groups and civil society members who have engaged with issues of justice, rights, and law reforms, specifically those related to women and sexual violence. We add­ress this letter to the retired members of the higher judiciary, to appeal to you to speak up on the side of justice and fairness in the matter of the sexual harassment allegati­ons against the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

The Supreme Court has, time and again, stood by the rights of women and the marginalised, and through many landmark judgments has helped to advance and consolidate the rights of women through a transformative interpretation of the Consti­tution. Unfortunately, ­today we are facing an unprecedented crisis of credibility of the Supreme Court, as the Court, in dealing with the complaint of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice, has acted not only in utter violation of principles of natural justice but also in contravention of the Vishaka case judgment and the Sexual Harassment of the Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (henceforth, the prevention of sexual harassment act).

On 18 April 2019, a 29-page affidavit was submitted by a woman employee of the Supreme Court to 22 judges of the Court, detailing allegations of the sexual harassment faced by her from none less than the CJI. The Court called a special hearing over this matter on 20 April 2019, through a bench consisting of two judges besides the CJI against whom the allegations of sexual harassment were made. With no notice given to the aggrieved woman, the CJI not only declared the allegations false, but further stated that these allegations threatened ­the independence of the judiciary. He also declared that the complainant had a criminal background. The bench further asked the media to show restraint to protect the independence of the judiciary. None of these observations were based upon any investigation by any competent authority.

This was a shocking breach of procedure wherein, before the complainant was heard, the powerful accused was ­allowed to make public declarations of his innocence and also point fingers at the complainant. Through this hearing, the Supreme Court lowered itself to the level of very many accused powerful men who resort to maligning the complainants by citing false and irrelevant past histories and by imputing ulterior motives.

This move was criticised by many people, including us through an open letter to all judges of the Supreme Court dated 24 April 2019. Thereafter, a committee was formed of three judges of the Court headed by Justice Bobde. The constitution of this committee itself was in contravention of the 2013 Act and the guidelines laid down by the Vishaka case judgment of 1997 by the Supreme Court itself, as it neither had any external member nor was it headed by a woman. In spite of this, the complainant participated, hoping to get a fair hearing.

When this committee started the hearing, it denied the aggrieved woman the right to be represented by a legal/support person of her choice, completely ignoring unequal balance of power not only between the parties, but also between the complainant and the committee itself. The committee obviously consisted of the senior-most judges in the country, while the complainant did not have legal training of any comparison. Procedures included in the Vishaka Guidelines and the prevention of sexual harassment act are cognisant of these unequal power equations in the workspace and a fair procedure adopted by the Court should also take this into account.

The aggrieved woman after two hearings on 26 April and 29 April 2019, withdrew from the enquiry citing that neither was she allowed representation, nor was she informed of the procedures to be followed by the committee. There was no audio or video recording of the proceeding, and further, she was not even provided minutes of the proceeding. Irrespective of these submissions, the committee proceeded to hold the ­enquiry ex parte.

And now, on 6 May 2019, the Supreme Court has gone ahead and declared that there is “no substance” in the allegation contained in the complaint. Further, in full violation of her right as a complainant, she has also been denied a copy of the report. A reference is made to a ­judgment from times before the Right to Information Act and the prevention of sexual harassment act to support this lack of transparency towards the complainant.

This, in our understanding, is a clear violation of any procedures of a fair and independent enquiry. We are aware that this is an extraordinary case that calls for extraordinary measures to be put in place, as this is a matter pertaining to the highest judicial authority under the Constitution. However, extraordinary measures cannot and ought not to overlook fundamental principles of natural justice and fair hearing.

We request you, as respected members of the judiciary, to lend your support to the complainant’s right to unbiased, impartial enquiry proceedings, and urge you to call upon the Supreme Court to take measures to correct the prevailing situation, by establishing a proper procedure to enquire into the allegations.

Further, we wish to reiterate that women and other marginalised sections of society do not have access to any societal power and turn to the courts expecting that they shall get a fair hearing. Khap panchayats and other mechanisms that function on ideas of “social morality of the powerful” are not where we seek justice. We have faith in the judicial constitutional mechanisms for any access to justice. Whatever be the outcome of this enquiry, it has to come through due diligence in law. Anything short of that will weaken the promise of justice to the weaker sections in this highly hierarchical society.

If the highest judicial authority does not follow its own procedures and stand up in support of the less powerful, it will send a message of disquiet to all those keeping faith in the system. Not only are the rights of women at stake, but also the credibility of the Supreme Court. It is to protect this system that has been painstakingly created by the diligence of many members of the judiciary that we ask you to speak.

Saheli Women’s Resource Center,

National Federation of Indian Women,

All India Progressive Women’s Association, (AIPWA) and 347 others

Endorsed By,

   1   Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai,

   2   Nari Samata Manch, Pune,

   3   North East Network,

        Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland

   4   Labia - A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai

   5   Saheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi

   6   Bebaak Collective

   7   People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra

   8   National Federation of Indian Women

   9   All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA)

10    Nari Ekta Shakti Sangathan, MUMBAI.

11            Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

12    National Alliance of People’s Movements

13    Nirantar, A Center for Gender and

        Education, NEW DELHI

14    Sandhya Gokhale, FAOW

15            Veena Gowda, Advocate, MUMBAI

16    Adv Vasudha Nagaraj, Lawyer, High Court of Telangana, HYDERABAD

17            Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist Researcher and Activist, MUMBAI

18    Nisha Biswas, Scientist and WSS, KOLKATA

19    Dr. Veena Shatrughna, Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition, HYDERABAD

20    Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Transgender RTI activist, TELANGANA

21            Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movements, TELANGANA

22    Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

23    Adv. Pyoli Swatija, Supreme Court of India and WSS

24    Flavia Agnes, Advocate

25    Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative

26    Sandhya, Progressive Association of Women, TELANGANA

27    V Geetha, Historian and Writer, CHENNAI

28    N Vasanti, Professor of Constitutional Law, Nalsar, HYDERABAD

29    Mary E John, NEW DELHI

30    Uma Chakravarti, Historian, NEW DELHI

31    Ammu Abraham, MUMBAI

32    Nandita Shah, Akshara, MUMBAI

33    Meena Gopal, MUMBAI

34    Hasina Khan, MUMBAI

35    Shals Mahajan, MUMBAI

36    Rohit Prajapati, VADODARA

37    Susie Tharu, Feminist Academic and Researcher, Avneshi, HYDERABAD

38    Amit Kumar, Student, LLB, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

39    Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women’s Support Alliance

40    Bijaya Chanda, Advocate, Alipore Court, KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL

41    Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social activist. CHENNAI.

42    Sumi Krishna, Former President (2005-08), Indian Association for Women’s Studies, Bengaluru

43    Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and Feminist Activist, NEW DELHI

44    Uma Shankari, Farmer, Researcher on Water, Environment and Livelihoods

45    Chitra, Labia, MUMBAI

46    Adv Lara Jesani, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra

47    Vandita Morarka, Founder/CEO, One Future Collective

48    Tara, Feminist Collective, SONEPAT

49    Saumya Malhotra, Democracy Collective, delhi ncr

50    Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM LUCKNOW, UP

51            Lovika Jaiswal, Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, NOIDA

52    Leena Pujari, K C College, MUMBAI

53    Vimal Bhai, National Convenor, National Alliance of People’s Movements

54    B Girija, State Project Manager, Sakhi TELANGANA

55    Meena Seshu and Aarthi Pai, Sangram, Maharashtra

56    Gita Chadha, Sociologist, MUMBAI

57    Shruti Chakravarty, Mental Health Practitioner, BOMBAY

58    Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Former President, Delhi University Teachers’ Association and Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations

59    Mitra Mukherjee-Parikh, Former Head, Associate Professor, SNDTWU

60    Dr Joseph M T, Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai, Kalina, MUMBAI

61    Rukmini Banerjee, Researcher, MUMBAI

62    Kabi S, MUMBAI

63    Dr V Rukmini Rao, Executive Director Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Tarnaka, Secunderabad, TELANGANA

64    Karuna DW, CHENNAI

65    Padmaja Shaw

66    Purnima Gupta, DELHI

67    Khadijah Faruqui, The Alternate Space Delhi, A Women’s Collective, NEW DELHI

68    Tanya Jaiswal, Modern school, NOIDA

69    Supriya Jain, CORO India, MUMBAI

70    K Ramnarayan, Uttarakhand, INDIA

71    Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Humans Rights Activist, MUMBAI

72    Bharat, Feminist Activist, Vishakha, JAIPUR

73    Shahira Naim, Special Correspondent, The Tribune, LUCKNOW

74    Aiman Khan, BANGALORE

75    Varsha Mehta

76    Roshni, Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

77    Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, AHMEDABAD

78    Meher Bhoot, WDC, University of Mumbai, MUMBAI

79    Kusumtai Chaudhari Mahila Kalyani C/o Snehja Rupwate

80    Anupama Potluri, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad, HYDERABAD

81    Minakshi Sanyal, Queer feminist activist, KOLKATA

82    Poushali Basak, FAOW, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, MUMBAI

83    Anita Rego, Social Researcher

84    Smita Parmar, Social Activist, Hajipur, BIHAR

85    Swabhiman Lok Seva Sansthan run by Medical Mission Sisters

86    Aruna Rodrigues,Environmental and Agro-ecology, Sunray Harvesters, MP

87    Subhasat

88    Bindu Doddahatti, Advocate, BANGALORE

89    Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism

90    A Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi Research Center for Women’s Studies

91    Dr Asma Rasheed, Assistant Professor, EFL University

92    Sumitra Anukram, Founder of Anukram

93    Madhumita Sinha, EFL University, HYDERABAD

94    Sajaya K, Independent Journalist and Social Activist, Caring Citizens Collective

95    Khalida Parveen, General Secretary Amoomat Society

96    Madhavi Mirapa, Scholar

97    Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University, HYDERABAD

98    Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, MUMBAI

99    Aileen Marques, Advocate MUMBAI

100  Pratibha Shinde, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, NANDURBAR, Maharashtra

101  Bittu K., Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Telangana Hijra Intersex Trans Samiti, Asawarpur, HARYANA

102  Tara Murali, Architect, CHENNAI

103  Padma, Human Rights Activist

104  Samar Bagchi, Educationist and Former Director, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, KOLKATA

105  Nandini Rao, Feminist Trainer and Activist, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, NEW DELHI

106  Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Activist and NAPM, UP

107  M Mandakini, Lawyer

108  Kondaveeti Satyavati Bhumika, HYDERABAD

109  Sherin B S,English and Foreign Languages University

110  Lawrence, President, Inigo Foundation

111  Madhurima Majumder, Assistant Professor, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development

112  Shyamala Nataraj, South India AIDS Action Programme

113  Anupama J, Counselor

114  M Sujatha, SPERDS NGO

115  Jayna Kothari, Senior Advocate

116  Bindulakshmi, MUMBAI

117  Suresh Melettukochy, BHOPAL

118  Jai Sen, Researcher and Editor, NEW DELHI

119  Shubhada Deshmukh, Mahila Arogya Parishad, Gadchiroli, MAHARASHTRA

120  Sana Contractor, Public Health Researcher, NEW DELHI

121  Nandita Gandhi, Activist, MUMBAI

122  Manisha Gupte, Feminist, MASUM, PUNE

123  Madhu Madhavan, Ex JJP Member, Current PhD student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, MUMBAI

124  Vimalbhai, Matu Jan Sangatgan, UTTARAKHAND

125 Mamta Singh, Social Worker, Women Rights Activist, Lucknow, UP

126  Rama Melkote, Prof.(Retd) or Political Science, Senior Activist, Osmania University, HYDERABAD

127  S Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum

128  K Sudha, Assistant Professor, DSNLU, Member, Human Rights Forum

129  K Anuradha, Human Rights Forum

130  Janaki Nair, JNU, NEW DEHI

131  Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Study

132  Sukla Sen, MUMBAI

133  K Kiran Mayee, Advocate

134  V Naga Lakshmi, Advocate

135  Mohammed Shakeel, Advocate

136  Ranjana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, BHUBANESWAR

137  Kalpana Karunakaran, IIT Madras

138  Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, CHENNAI

139  Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, KOCHI

140  Prema Revati, Educationist

141  Rachana Mudraboyina, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti

142  Saheli, Women’s Resource Center, NEW DELHI

143  Vasudha Katju, Researcher, NEW DELHI

144  Aisha Farooqui, Prof. (Retd) Osmania University

145  Swathy Margaret, Researcher

146  S Ashalatha, Social Activist

147  Radhika Khajuria, NEW DELHI

148  Purwa Bharadwaj, DELHI

149  Ketki Ranade, MUMBAI

150  Asha Achuthan, MUMBAI

151  Vineeta Bal, PUNE

152  Anjali Rawat, Law Researcher

153  Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, MUMBAI

154  Madhu Bhushan

155  Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice, HIMACHAL PRADESH

156  Pragya Joshi, PUCL, UDAIPUR

157  Dr Albertina Almeida, Advocate, GOA

158  Vennela Madabhushi, Lawyer, BANGALORE

159  Anuradha Pati, Development Professional

160  Soma K P, Independent Research Scholar

161  Lata Singh, JNU

162  Urmilla Chandran, Principal Technical Writer

163  Kaneez Fatima, Activist and Librarian

164  Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships

165  Masooma Ranalvi, We SpeakOut

166  Srinivas Vellikad, Senior Manager, Documentation.

167  S Seethalakshmi, Researcher

168  Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, MUMBAI

169  Sunkara Rajendra Prasad, Advocate, VIJAYWADA

170  Vahida Nainar, MUMBAI

171  Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, BANGALORE

172  Jayasree.A K., Professor, Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, KANNUR, KERALA

173  Shaitan Singh, Law Student, VISAKHAPATNAM

174  Anjana Ramanathan, Advocate

175  Piyoli Swatija, Advocate

176  V S Krishna, Human Rights Forum

177  Smita Gupta, NEW DELHI

178  Geeta Seshu, Journalist

179  Lakshmi Krishnamurthy

180  Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University

181  Ritu Dewan, Vice President at Indian Society of Labour Economics

182  Sarojini N, NEW DELHI

183  Brinelle D’souza, TISS

184  Deeptha Achar, Professor, BARODA

185  Shilpaa Anand, BITS-Pilani, Hyderabad campus

186  Shefali Jha, University of Hyderabad

187  M Madhavi, Assistant Professor, Presidency University, BANGALORE

188  Kumar Shubham Raj, Advocate, BIHAR

189  Bushra Quasmi, Asst Prof, DSNLU, VISAKHAPATNAM

190  B Syama Sundari, Dastakar Andhra

191  Abha Bhaiya, Jagori

192  Ambika Tandon, NEW DELHI

193  Anandhi S, Researcher, CHENNAI

194  Shalini Gera, Advocate, Bilaspur High Court

195  Govind Kelkar, Senior Advisor - Women, Land & Productive Assets

196  Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT, BANGALORE

197  P V Srividya, Journalist, krishnagiri

198  K Katyayani, Prof (Retd), Kakatitya University, warangal

199  Deepa V health Activist, delhi

200  Sunita Bandewar, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai; Vidhayak Trust, pune

201  Anuradha Kapoor, kolkata

202  Veena Johari, Advocate, mumbai

203  Mumtaz Sheikh, CORO Mahila Mandal Federation, mumbai

204  Rohini Hensman, Writer & Researcher

205  Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist

206  Tashi Choedup, Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist

207  Aditi Joshi, Mumbai 208. Amarjit Singh, mumbai 

209  Kaveri Dadhich, Mumbai 210. Padma, Independent Researcher, mumbai 

211  Shakun Doundiyakhed, ooty 

212  R Alphonso, mumbai 

213  Neha Singh, mumbai 

214  Shewli Kumar, mumbai 

215  Bharati Kapadia, mumbai 

216  Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, mumbai 

217  Catrinel Dunca, ahmedabad

218  Nirja Vasavada, ahmedabad

219  Shumona Goel

220  Mani A, kolkata

221  Kamaxi Bhate, mumbai

222  Mridul Dudeja, mumbai

223  Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, new delhi

224  Gayatri, Faculty, TISS, hyderabad

225  Abhiti Gupta, Legal Activist, new delhi

226  Maneka Khanna, Advocate, delhi

227  Surabhi Dhar, Advocate, delhi

228  Zeba Sikora, Advocate, mumbai

229  Rupali Samuel, Advocate, delhi

230  Payoshi Roy, Advocate, mumbai

231  Archit Krishna, Advocate, chattisgarh

232  Satnam Kaur, new delhi

233  Reethika Ravikumar, mumbai

234  Mini Mathew, Advocate, mumbai

235  Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi

236  Fatima N, tamil nadu

237  Poorva Rajaram, Researcher, NEW DELHI

238  Vanessa Chishti, Jindal Law University, sonipat

239  Esther Moraes, NEW DELHI

240  Niti Saxena, Lawyer, Researcher, and Activist, luckhnow

241  Tusharika Mattoo, Advocate, DELHI

242  Maulshree Pathak, Advocate, DELHI

243  Shreya Munoth, Advocate, DELHI

244  Sayali Kadu, Advocate, DELHI

245  Shuchi Dwivedi, Advocate, DELHI

246  Rhea Goyal, Advocate, DELHI

247  Sowjhanya Shankaran, Advocate, DELHI

248  Anushree Malviya, Advocate, DELHI

249  Sonal Sarda, Advocate, DELHI

250  Sanya Kumar, Advocate, DELHI

251  Shreya Rastogi, Advocate, DELHI

252  Harshita Reddy, Advocate, DELHI

253  Sanjana Srikumar, Advocate, DELHI

254  Avantika, Advocate, DELHI

255  Ninni Susan Thomas, Advocate, DELHI

256  Nidhi Rao Gummuluru, Advocate, DELHI

257  Vasundhara Majithia, Advocate, DELHI

258  Meghana Sengupta, Advocate, DELHI

259  Shailiza Sharma, Advocate, Delhi High Court

260  Kanika Sood, Advocate DELHI

261  Kruti Venkatesh, Advocate, Bombay High Court

262  Bhavana Sunder, Advocate, Bombay High Court

263  Rhea Jha, Advocate, Bombay High Court

264  Devyani Kulkarni, Advocate, High Court, bombay

265  Khusboo Agarwal, bombay

266  Sara Ahmed, bombay

267  Surabhi Singh, Advocate, High Court at bombay

268  Ronita Bhattacharya, Advocate, High Court, bombay

269  Jahnavi Vishwanath, chennai

270  Janaki Abraham, Delhi University

271  Dimple Oberoi Vahali

272 Vandana Mahajan, A Feminist Practitioner

273  Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Citizen, Alibag, maharashtra

274  Chitra Sinha, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, sweden

275  Vasudha Sawaiker, Social Justice Action Committee, goa

276  Amita Kanekar, Writer, goa

277  Adsa Fatima, Health Activist, delhi

278  Dr Mira Shiva

279  Dr Saswati Ghosh, Academic and Activist, kolkata

280  Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health and Gender Justice, mumbai

281  Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court

282  Bindhulakshmi, mumbai

283  Radhika Desai, hyderabad

284  Ritu Menon, new delhi

285  Shraddha Chickerur, lucknow286          Svati Joshi, ahmedabad

287  Aruna Burte, pune

288  Malavika Karlekar, new delhi

289  Sujata Gothoskar, Trade Union Activist, mumbai

290  Nalini Nair, SEWA, Kerala

291  Sangeeta Chatterji, FAOW

292  Nisha, National Convenor, WSS

293  Ajita, National Convenor, WSS

294  Shalini, National Convenor, WSS

295  Rinchin, National Convenor, WSS

296  Hiranmay Karlekar, new delhi

297  Rina Mukerji, Independent Journalist

298  Vibhuti Patel, mumbai

299  Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, new delhi

300  Swarna Rajgopalan, chennai

301  Chittaroopa Palit, madhya pradesh

302  Bondita Acharya, Human Rights Activist, assam

303  Bela Bhatia, Bastar

304  AI Sharada, Laadli, Population First

305  Amit Mitra, new delhi

306  Sujata Mody, National Secretary, New Delhi Trade Union Initiative

307  M Dilli, Joint Secretary, Garment and Fashion Workers Union, chennai

308  Anju Talukdar, Independent law and development professional, new delhi

309  Vidha Saumya, Visual Artist, Oshiwara, mumbai

310  Jasveen Jairath, Consultant, Water and Ecology, Concerned Citizens, hyderabad

311  Shreya Suresh, Advocate, bangalore

312  Sowmya Khandelwal, Associate at a Law Firm, bangalore

313  M V Swaroop, Advocate, Madras High Court

314  Tashi Choedip, Queer Buddhist Activist, Bodhgaga, Bihar

315  Mangla Verma, Advocate, new delhi

316  Chitra Narayan, Advocate, chennai

317  Anusha Ramanathan, Visiting Faculty, University of Mumbai, Consultant, TISS

318  Richa, Humsafar, lucknow

319  Sunila Singh, Woman Human Rights Defender, new delhi

320  Zainab, Humsafar, lucknow

321  Afroz Jahan, Humsafar, lucknow

322  Anurekha, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hyderabad, hyderabad

323  Lalita, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, odisha

324  Sister Lissy Joseph, National Domestic Workers Movement, hyderabad

325  Nikhat Fatima, Journal Activist

326  Vasundhara Vedula, mumbai

327  Swatija Manorama, mumbai

328  Amrita Howlader, kolkata

329  Nazia Akhter, hyderabad

330  Swarup Beria, guwahati

331  Arpita Jaya, Quill Foundation

332  Sheela Rahulan, Vanithakalasahithi, trivandrum

333  Dr Iris Koileo, Assocaite Professor (Retd), St Xavier’s College, Women Writers Group, Vinimaya, thiruvananthapuram, kerala

 

Updated On : 10th May, 2019

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