New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Madhya Pradesh High Court to consider reinstating a woman district judge, who had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against a High Court judge.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and A.S. Bopanna asked senior advocate Ravindra Shrivastava, representing the High Court: “Why is the High Court not open to our suggestion? You please communicate our views (to the High Court).”
Shrivastava replied that what is troubling the High Court is that this is a case of voluntary resignation, and not termination, and the resignation was accepted in 2014.
Conveying the final decision of the High Court on the matter, he said that the matter was placed before the full court, which examined it, and decided not to reinstate her. He added that it was the third time that this issue was considered by all the judges in the High Court.
At this, the Chief Justice asked the High Court counsel to consider it as a fresh appointment and the court will ask her counsel to communicate it to her client. “We expect you to solve the difficulties, not tell us the difficulties,” the bench said.
Shrivastava contended that the woman judge resigned in 2014, and it is 2020 now. “Many appointments have taken place during this period… Besides, she is particular about her seniority, and wants it to remain uninterrupted as if she never resigned,” he submitted.
He suggested that the apex court can have a brief hearing on the matter on merits.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing the woman judge, contended that suggestions were made that she could be accommodated in some other state, but it did not happen due to the lockdown, and she is very keen to begin work.
The Chief Justice told Jaising that their condition was being a judge and to work, but not seniority. “If priority is work, then why is it not possible to give up seniority?” he queried.
As Jaising replied that the woman is 48 now, and “how can she begin at the bottom?”, the Chief Justice replied many apex court judges, after their tenure, were appointed as ad hoc judges where they started from the bottom.
Jaising replied that the woman aspires to be a High Court judge and then become a Supreme Court judge. “How can I ask her to give up her aspirations?”
The Chief Justice then told Jaising, if her meeting with Shrivastava does not work out, then the top court will hold a hearing on the matter and posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
In 2017, the High Court judge, against whom allegations were made, was given a clean chit by a Rajya Sabha-appointed inquiry panel. The woman moved the top court challenging the dismissal of her application seeking reinstatement into the Madhya Pradesh Higher Judicial Services.