‘Harassment’, Pleas and a Petition Dismissed in 8 Seconds: Behind Woman Civil Judge’s Letter to CJI

'Harassment', Pleas and a Petition Dismissed in 8 Seconds: Behind Woman Civil Judge's Letter to CJI

New Delhi: “I have no will to live anymore. I have been rendered to a walking corpse in the last year and a half. There is no purpose in carrying this soulless and lifeless body around anymore. There is no purpose left in my life. Kindly permit me to end my life in a dignified way. Let my life be: dismissed.”

A woman civil judge (junior division) in Uttar Pradesh has sent shockwaves in the judicial circles after she penned a disturbing open letter to the topmost judge in the country to allow her to take her own life. Her grievance: she alleges that she was sexually harassed by a district judge and his associates; despite her following the proper procedure and knocking on the doors of all the higher courts, she has not been able to secure justice for herself.

The letter, written in “extreme pain and despair,” is addressed to Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud.

After the letter was widely shared on social media on Friday, December 15, CJI Chandrachud sought a status report from the administration of the Allahabad high court on the inquiry being conducted into allegations of sexual harassment raised by the woman judge. The CJI is yet to publicly respond to the matter or issue directions.

No system of redressal

“I have been sexually harassed by one particular district judge and his associates. I was told to meet the district judge at night,” the civil judge wrote in her letter.

Although she does not state specific instances or names the accused, her letter provides a clear glimpse of the distressing experience she had to go through in order to seek justice for herself.

She alleged that she was abused verbally in open court with a misogynist slur and that she had even tried to kill herself through suicide. The judge reportedly endured the harassment and abuse during her earlier posting in another district close to the capital Lucknow.

“I have been sexually harassed to the very limit. I have been treated like utter garbage. I feel like an unwanted insect. And I hoped to provide justice to others. What naive me!” she wrote.

The woman judge, whose identity and location are not being disclosed to protect her privacy as mandated by law, said she had  complained to the Chief Justice of the Allahabad high court and the administrative judge in 2022 but that no action has been taken till date. Nobody had even bothered to ask why she was distressed, she said.

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In July, 2023 she complained to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the high court but it “took six months and a thousand emails” just to start an enquiry, she said.

“The proposed enquiry is also a farce and a sham. The witnesses in the enquiry are immediate subordinates of the district judge,” she said, arguing that for a fair enquiry the witnesses ought not to be in the administrative control of the accused.

“How the committee expects the witnesses to depose against their boss is beyond my understanding.”

The civil judge said she had requested that the accused district judge be transferred during the pendency of the enquiry.

Petition dismissed at SC

She then approached the Supreme Court with her prayer.

A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sandeep Mehta on December 13 dismissed a writ petition filed by her saying that her matter was already under the process of the ICC.

The court said,” Since the internal complaints committee concerned is already in session of the matter and a resolution is already passed which is pending approval of the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, we see no reason to entertain this writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.”

She expressed dismay at the SC’s dismissal of her petition and alleged that her plea was dismissed in eight seconds.

” I thought that the highest court will definitely hear such a straight forward benign prayer. What did I know? My writ petition was dismissed in 8 seconds without any hearing and consideration of my prayers,” she said in the open letter.

The judge expressed her scepticism about a fair enquiry in her matter. “What Justice will I give to others when I am myself hopeless?”

In her letter, the judge also issued a message to working women in the country, warning them of the tall order of their fight against the system.

“I wish to tell all the working women in India: Learn to live with sexual harassment. It’s a truth of our lives. The POSH ACT is a big wholesome lie told to us. No one listens, no one bothers….And I am judge. I could not even a muster a fair enquiry for myself, let alone justice. I advise all women to learn to be a toy, or a non-living thing.”

Source: thewire

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