India's High Court Rocked By Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

Jan 14, 2014
Originally published on January 14, 2014 7:02 pm

India's Supreme Court is set to hear a petition Wednesday against one of its own retired judges over allegations that he sexually harassed a former intern — the second such case to be made public in as many months.

The alleged incidents have cast a cloud over the country's highest court and pressure has mounted for it to comply with its own 1997 rulings requiring panels in the workplace to hear harassment complaints. Critics say such a panel for the Supreme Court itself is long overdue.

In the previous case, Stella James, a former intern, alleged in a blog for an Indian legal journal that she had been harassed by Supreme Court Judge A.K. Ganguly. The allegations rocked the court, which took testimony and found Ganguly had committed "an act of unwelcome behavior." He's since been forced out as chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission, but only after weeks of resisting pressure.

The case due to be heard Wednesday alleges that another top judge, Justice Swatanter Kumar, harassed an intern in 2011. The young lawyer leveling the charge has asked the court for an inquiry into her allegations.

Unlike Justice Ganguly, who was retired at the time of the alleged episode, Kumar was still on the bench. Now retired, Kumar has denied the charges and has reportedly sued media outlets, alleging they are part of a conspiracy against him.

In hearing the case against Kumar, India's Supreme Court set aside an earlier ruling that it would not entertain complaints against its retired justices.

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