Sexual harassment: Somnath Chatterjee defends AK Ganguly

Kolkata: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today defended beleaguered West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairman AK Ganguly, indicted by a Supreme Court judges panel in an sexual molestation case of a law intern, saying he had 'faith' in him and the exercise against him was 'overzealous'.

"I have faith in him... He will decide what has to be done," Chatterjee said when asked if Justice Ganguly, a former Supreme Court judge, should resign as chairman of the WBHRC after indictment by the panel which found that his conduct towards a woman law intern was of "sexual nature".

 Sexual harassment: Somnath Chatterjee defends AK Ganguly

Somnath Chatterjee. AFP

"Is it that easy? Just because someone alleges?" Chatterjee, a veteran barrister, retorted when asked again on the sidelines of a programme organised by WBHRC on World Human Rights Day, where Justice Ganguly was present as its chairman.

"Everyone has his right and dignity. If he is proved guilty, the country will punish him," Chatterjee said defending Justice Ganguly whose resignation is being sought from several quarters, including the BJP.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had chosen Justice Ganguly as the chairman of WBHRC after coming to power in 2011, has written twice to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking strong action against the former judge.

Asked about the three-judge panel's indictment of Justice Ganguly, Chatterjee said, "I don't know under what authority they went into it and then forthwith decided not to touch any such matter."

"Why this exception was made then? I won't say its malafide, I would say its overzealousness," Chatterjee said about the exercise.

The Supreme Court committee of three judges has indicted Justice Ganguly for his "unwelcome behaviour" and "conduct of sexual nature" towards the law intern.

Justice Ganguly has strongly denied the charge.

Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam has, however, said, "No further follow up action is required by this Court" in view of the fact that Justice Ganguly had demitted office on the day of the incident (Dec 24 last year).

"As decided by the Full Court in its Meeting dated 5th December 2013, it is made clear that the representations made against former Judges of this Court are not entertainable by the administration of the Supreme Court," the CJI's statement said on December 5.

Justice Ganguly, who retired from the apex court more than a year ago, was accused by the intern of sexually harassing her in a hotel room in Delhi.

"With all due respect to the learned Judges, if they would make it clear to the nation, it would be better," Chatterjee said.

Speaking at the function to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the WBHRC chairman said, "We have been observing this day as the World Human Rights Day. But it should not be just an annual ritual. This day has great significance." "What is important is that it evolved out of a troubled conscience of mankind. It has great historical and moral values," Justice Ganguly said.

He was quoted from the Constitution of India and its Preamble.

He also referred to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela on their struggles for equal rights.


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Updated Date: Dec 10, 2013 23:03:57 IST