Observing that he was concerned as head of the institution (judiciary), Chief Justice P Sathasivam said, "In the cases of sexual harassment, we cannot take it lightly." (Agencies)
"We are taking steps," said the three-judge bench also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh after Attorney General GE Vahavati mentioned the matter, saying, "It is an extremely serious matter".
The CJI said that the matter was also mentioned at 10.30 am on Tuesday and during the lunch recess it was discussed with other judges. "I have constituted a committee comprising three judges-Justices RM Lodha, HL Dattu and Ranjana Prakash Desai."
"The committee will go into the whole affair and find out the facts and prepare the report and they are going to start their work," the CJI said. "First, the committee will find out the correctness of the statement," Justice Sathasivam said, observing that there are records about the interns or advocates who are associated with judges.
Further entries are made about persons coming to the Supreme Court and the committee will go into it, he said. "As the head of the institution, I am also concerned about the allegation," the CJI said, adding, "I am anxious whether the statement is true or not."
The allegation of sexual assault hit the Supreme Court when a young woman intern accused a sitting judge, who retired recently, of having misbehaved with her in a hotel room last December when the nation was grappling with the gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in the capital.
The allegation, levelled by the woman lawyer against the unnamed judge, was raised in the Apex Court before the Chief Justice by advocate ML Sharma with a plea that the issue be taken note of suo motu on the basis of media reports and an inquiry be initiated.
While the bench was passing the order, advocate Sharma reminded the judges that he had mentioned the matter in the morning.
"Yes, you mentioned it in the morning at 10.30. It was lingering in my mind while I was hearing the submission made by a senior counsel in another matter," the CJI said, adding, "We are conscious of the fact."
Justice Sathasivam said guidelines have been framed and notified in the gazette to deal with issues of sexual harassment in the Apex Court premises and curb the evil.
Members are yet to be inducted in the committee for which communication has already been sent to Supreme Court Bar Association and Law Clerks Association to select the members, but they have not yet replied.
A deadline of November 30 has been set for them to nominate the members, the CJI said. The bench had assembled 20 minutes late after the lunch break. The Attorney General narrated the news report published in a leading daily today and said it was based on the blog written by the intern and a subsequent interview given by her.
Vahanvati said, "It is an extremely serious matter and you have to look at it seriously." He also said the matter has to be taken up very seriously in view of the apex court's guidelnes laid down in the Visakha judgement dealing withe sexual harassment of women at work place.
The bench said "As a leader of the bar, we appreciate your effort. We are anxious whether the statement is true or not."
After hearing the Attorney General, the bench told him that since it has already constituted a committee, it will keep the petition pending for two weeks.
Observing that he was concerned as head of the institution (judiciary), Chief Justice P Sathasivam said, "In the cases of sexual harassment, we cannot take it lightly."