The term “sexual harassment” refers to behaviour characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation. As per reports, sexual harassment cases are uncontrolled and difficult to prove. The society has been witnessing incidents wherein the accused are people older to the victim or someone victim looks up to or a famous personality.
Sexual Harassment exists in various kinds of professions which also includes the judiciary. In recent times, there have been horror stories coming up where women are harassed in law firms, lawyers’ chambers, the lower judiciary and the higher judiciary (the high courts).
The controversy involves the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and he has been accused of sexual harassment. In India, the office of the CJI is considered in some ways most important, even more than that of the President or the Prime Minister, as the CJI is the ultimate protector of our fundamental rights.
The chances of accusation being true or false are debatable. In all likelihood, by the time the charge is proven against the Chief Justice of India, or for that matter, any judge of the Supreme Court, their term would have come to an end.
The allegations of sexual harassment made by the woman and denials by the CJI are constant until there will be no decision.
The Saturday hearing raised few questions at the CJI, where convening and chairing of the bench was chosen arbitrarily at random hour, without any notice to the complainant.
Whenever this case is taken up and it comes before a bench of the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court of India, it is important to ascertain remedies for procedural irregularities that occurred on Saturday i.e. 20th April 2019. There are steps which could be taken by the CJI within the Constitution of India to make sure that he is not acting as a judge in his own matter.
The office of CJI is an important part of our democratic country and can’t be risked to demean it. The future of this democratic country will be at stake if we lower the standards of the Constitutional office. To maintain the dignity and respect of the CJI office and future judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, necessary steps are to be taken to deal with matters related to sexual harassment in a more transparent way.
While in every case, there is a losing party and on the other hand, there is a winning party, but where transparency is at stake the greatest loss is to the judiciary and the nation’s trust in the legal process.