After 1 year and 9 months, the suo-motu case registered by the Supreme Court in 2019 following sexual assault charges against then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi is scheduled for hearing today.
After Justice Gogoi himself had sat on the Bench to hear the case, the matter titled “In Re: Matter of Great Public Importance Touching Upon the Independence of Judiciary” had generated quite a stir.
The case was last heard by the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Deepak Gupta on April 25, 2019, when the Court agreed to investigate whether a broader plot to frame the CJI and tarnish the judiciary was involved.
This development came after lawyer Utsav Bains sent some affidavits reportedly containing classified knowledge regarding certain plot to the court in a sealed cover.
The Court had registered the affidavits and appointed Justice AK Patnaik, a former judge of the Supreme Court, to hold an investigation into the charges found in the affidavit.
Although in October 2019, Justice Patnaik had submitted his report to the Court, the case was never called for hearing until today.
The case was heard today by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian of the Bench of Justices. In April 2019, the charges against Justice Gogoi arose after four news channels reported reports of a lawsuit lodged against Gogoi J. by a Supreme Court staff member.
When employed as a Junior Court Assistant in October 2018, she alleged that she was sexually assaulted by CJI Gogoi. She had outlined these charges in a representation submitted to the Supreme Court judges when demanding the initiation of an inquiry against CJI Gogoi.
The Court reported the suo motu case on the same day that the charges were released and was listed in open court the same day. This happened on a day of non-working. Justice Gogoi sat on the bench himself and made a clear exception to the news stories while refusing the allegation.
Later, to investigate the broader question of the supposed plot posed by Utsav Bains, the case was referred to another three-judge bench led by Justice Arun Mishra. Meanwhile, a court-appointed committee created to investigate the charges gave Justice Gogoi a clean chit.