Apex court sets up 10-member gender sensitisation panel

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court Tuesday set up its Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee.

Close on the heels of a young lawyer leveling sexual harassment charges against a former judge of the court, the Supreme Court Tuesday set up its Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC).

The committee will be headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and will have nine other members, including another judge Justice Madan B Lokur and four lawyers. Other members include a representative from NGO 'Haq: Centre for Child Rights' and the director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies. Out of the 10, there are seven women members in the committee.

The committee's constitution has come after a delay of more than a month for want of nomination of members by the Supreme Court Bar Association and the SC Clerks Association. While taking suo motu note of the accusation by the young lawyer, Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had regretted the delay caused due to slackness by the two associations in sending the names of their representatives.

The apex court had decided to set up the committee after a PIL by advocates Beenu Tamta and others pointed out that there was no such panel in place to address the sexual harassment complaints of women lawyers, interns and other women employees in the apex court premises.

Subsequently, the Gender Sensitisation and Sexual Harassment of Women at the Supreme Court of India (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulations, 2013, were notified and the CJI constituted the committee.

Meanwhile, the three-judge panel to look into the allegations of the young lawyer held another meeting Tuesday, a day after she said she feels "humiliated" and has to constantly justify that she is not lying, as "Indian law" is not equipped to "sensitively deal with crimes against women".

Communicating the official message after the meeting, Ravinder Maithani, secretary general of the Supreme Court and member secretary of the panel, said: "The committee is focusing with all seriousness the task given to it by the Chief Justice of India and it intends to complete it at the earliest." 

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