Pressure on Ganguly, President sends Mamata's complaint to Centre
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Government sources said "a proper recommendation will be sent to the President soon" as Mukherjee is "seized of the matter" after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to him seeking action against Ganguly.
Mukherjee is learnt to have forwarded Banerjee's letter to the MHA for appropriate action. His press secretary Venu Rajamony said the issue was now "with the MHA" as the letter had been forwarded to the ministry.
The pressure on Ganguly spiked after Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising wrote in The Indian Express Monday about the case and also included excerpts of the affidavit filed by the lawyer about the alleged incident which took place when she was an intern last December.
Leading the demand for the former judge's resignation was Law Minister Kapil Sibal, who asked Ganguly to resign on his own "rather than suffer the ignominy of an inquiry by the Supreme Court".
While Ganguly remained adamant and asked how the confidential affidavit had become public, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said the case would be examined afresh.
"The issue is being examined in the light of today's Indian Express report. Appropriate legal action will be taken after necessary examination," Bassi said. The Delhi Police has been waiting for the lawyer to respond to their request to record her statement to be able to proceed in the case.
Responding to Ganguly's question about how the affidavit had become public, Jaising said she had made the excerpts public with the "full support" of the intern.
"I would like to state very unambiguously that whatever I am doing, I am doing with her complete cooperation and keeping her in the loop. I would never ever make a document like this public unless I had her full support," she said.
Jaising also said if Ganguly was certain he had done nothing wrong, he should make public the video of his oral statement to the SC panel. "What is he afraid of? If he doesn't have a copy of the video, he should get the same from the Supreme Court since it's his own statement," she said.
In her affidavit to a three-judge panel set up by CJI P Sathasivam to inquire into her allegation that Ganguly had sexually harassed her in a hotel room in Delhi on December 24 last year, the lawyer had described in detail his alleged behaviour when she had gone to assist him in his work.
Reacting to the affidavit, the law minister said it was a "very serious" matter and the Central government "will certainly take a position on it, especially in light of revelations made by the additional solicitor general".
Asked if Ganguly should resign without waiting for the President to make a reference to the Supreme Court, as provided for under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, Sibal told The Indian Express: "It would certainly be advisable for the judge to resign rather than suffer the ignominy of an inquiry by the Supreme Court and subsequent removal, which will also bring the institution to disrepute."
Sibal also said he was waiting to see when the apex court "rises to the occasion" to deal with the Ganguly.
Leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also asked Ganguly to resign. "It is not an untested allegation...To protect the dignity of his office, he should quit," Jaitley said.
In a post on his website, the BJP leader said: "Justice Ganguly's insistence on continuing in office raises a few questions. Firstly, if it were a case of a prominent politician rather than a former judge, would the judicial institutions have completely washed their hands off or would they have monitored the investigations?
"The fact that a former judge of the highest court is involved demands that the standards of judicial scrutiny will have to be higher than the normal. Secondly, in the face of this serious allegation, can Justice Ganguly at all discharge his functions as the chairman of WBHRC? Thirdly, would it not be fair and proper that the former judge contests this allegation as an ordinary citizen rather than a high functionary."
"If he were to relinquish his office, he would only be protecting the dignity of the office that he occupies. His decision to cling on to his office only establishes that even judges like most in political positions continue to stick to their office till the intensity of public opinion forces them out."
However, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee said there was no need for Ganguly to resign.
"Isn't he a citizen of this country, entitled to a fair inquiry? Why are you holding a media trial against him? Why isn't the President doing something? I am only saying that he is not in a position to interfere with any inquiry against him. Why, then, this clamour for his resignation? Let there be an inquiry to establish the truth. We all know why Mamata Banerjee wants him out. Her govt has not accepted any order passed by him (as chairman of WBHRC)," the former speaker told The Indian Express.
Asked if it was a fit case for the President to make a reference to the apex court, Chatterjee said: "I am not the President's adviser. He is capable of taking his own decisions. But let me clarify that I am not for saving Justice Ganguly. All that I have said is that hang him if he is found guilty. But please stop hurting the institution."