With the additional solicitor general (ASG) Indira Jaising’s decision to go public with the law intern’s statement that alleges misconduct by the retired Supreme Court Judge A K Ganguly, the chorus for his resignation has only got louder.
So much so, in response to the publication of the victim’s statement, union law minister Kapil Sibal has said that the government may have to intervene if Justice Ganguly doesn't step down from his post as the chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission. The retired Supreme Court judge, however, seems to have only hardened his stand questioning instead how Jaising could release the victim’s statement to the public.
Jaising, however, defended her decision. She told the media, "I took the decision only after I realised that powerful sections of society were coming out in the public domain to support A.K. Ganguly, and that people were asking, ‘what did he do?’... Given that he was refusing to resign, I felt compelled to put the girl's affidavit in the public domain."
While the law intern who made the complaint has not yet reacted to the ASG’s disclosure of her statement, women activists have come out in support of the decision. The decision by to go public with the complaint against Justice (retd) Ganguly was made with the complainant’s permission, says Kavita Krishnan, women’s rights activist and secretary All India Progressive Women’s Association.
“It was not made public until and unless the complainant gave her permission. She wanted it to be made public. She has given her permission. She does not still want to go down the FIR road. But this is something she was willing for,” Krishnan told Firstpost.
On the implications of the revelation, Krishnan said, “The revelation makes it very clear that it was not just inappropriate words or gesture. This is clearly and absolutely a case of sexual harassment of a very serious nature, where he has used his position and her position as an employee to pressurise her. He has done it through words, by trying to create a situation where she will have to stay the night there. This amounts to making her unsafe in her workplace. The gravity of the situation certainly is obvious from the complaint. There have been attempts to try and play it down by saying that the complainant might have misunderstood and so on. The complaint makes it very clear that there was no misunderstanding.”
Asked what had spurred the complainant to go public with her complaint, Krishnan said, “Let us accept that she was willing to make her complaint public. Clearly, there was an attempt to sweep this whole issue under the carpet. Justice Gangulywas not resigning on his own.Why should we question why she has gone public. Obviously she wants justice, that is why she has done it.”
Jaising also found support from feminist lawyers.
Defending the ASG’s decision, Supreme Court lawyer and member of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) Kirti Singh said, “When facts are not known people speculate on them. When they are known, it is far more difficult to defend him and his actions…Now he cannot be shielded behind ‘nobody knows what happened’. We now know what his verbal and non-verbal conduct was.”
But does that not also compromise the victim’s privacy? “She has not disclosed who the victim is, her name, or where she lives. The only fact that has come out is that she was working as an intern with him. That was known right from the beginning… This won’t be traumatic for the victim. It will only put pressure on Justice Ganguly to resign,” says Singh.
The decision by the ASG to go public with the statement was made with the complainant’s permission, says KavitaKrishan, women’s rights activist and secretary All India Progressive Women’s Association. “So it is welcome,” says Krishnan.
Last month, the leak of the letter by a Tehelka staffer, who has since resigned, complaining of being sexually molested by founder and editor of the magazine TarunTejpal led to an online campaign to protect the privacy and identity of the victim.
Drawing a distinction between the Tehelka episode and the decision by Jaising to go public with the victim’s statement Supreme Court lawyer Singh said, “In the Tehelka case, the controversy was over disclosure of the name of the victim. In this case, victim’s name has not be disclosed.”