Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In what is likely to dent the image of Supreme Court judges, who usually lead a spotless life, a young lawyer has made allegations of sexual harassment by an apex court judge who has now retired.
Reports on Monday said that the girl, who graduated from Kolkata-based National University of Juridical Sciences this year, was doing internship with the apex court judge when she was sexually harassed by him in December last year.
The lawyer had made these charges against the SC judge in question first in her in blog on November 6 for `Journal of Indian Law and Society` and repeated it later in an interview to the website `Legally India`.
The girl had alleged that the judge, who was "old enough to be her grandfather", harassed her in a hotel room at a time when Delhi and the entire nation was on the boil over the December 16 gang-rape case.
The victim, who even terms herself as a `coward` for not initially raking up the issue, decided to speak out as she felt she had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls are not put in a similar situation.
When asked why she kept mum against her alleged tormentor, the girl, currently a fellow with `Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment`, said she kept silent because of the authority the judge commanded and that she was too stunned at the time to even react with anger.
"I have heard of three other cases (of sexual harassment) by the same judge and I know of at least four other girls who`ve faced harassment from other judges - not perhaps as (bad as mine): most of them were in the chambers of the judge and other people around, so it never gets too bad. A girl I know faced continuous sexual harassment throughout and sexual advances, and actually faced troubles through her work because of it," she was quoted as telling `Legally India`.
When contacted by mediapersons, she refused to say anything on the issue as she had already narrated the matter to Legally India and in her personal blog.
In her blog, she had written, "Last December was momentous for the feminist movement in the country - almost an entire population seemed to rise up spontaneously against the violence on women, and the injustices of a seemingly apathetic government. In the strange irony of situations that our world is replete with, the protests were the backdrop of my own experience.
"In Delhi at that time, interning during the winter vacations of my final year in university, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highly reputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester. For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather. I won`t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that long after I`d left the room, the memory remained, in fact, still remains, with me."
She futher wrote in her blog post, "All the talk during that time was of stricter punishment, of baying for the blood of `creepy` men. Five years of law school had taught me to look to the law for all solutions - even where I knew that the law was hopelessly inadequate - and my reluctance to wage a legal battle against the judge left me feeling cowardly."
"On reflection though, I cannot help but wonder why I should have felt that way. As mentioned earlier, I bore, and still bear, no real ill-will towards the man, and had no desire to put his life`s work and reputation in question. On the other hand, I felt I had a responsibility to ensure that other young girls were not put in a similar situation."
"Allowing myself to feel more than just anger at a man who violated me, something that I had never done before, is liberating! So, I want to ask you to think of one thing alone - when dealing with sexual violence, can we allow ourselves to embrace feelings beyond or besides anger, and to accept the complexity of emotions that we face when dealing with any traumatic experience?"
It would be interesting to see if the anti-sexual harassment committee, which was set up by the July 17 order of a bench headed by then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir, will initiate any action in this regard.