The Bar Council of India on Saturday condemned the sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, describing them as “false and cooked up”, PTI reported. The Bar Council said the entire Bar supports Gogoi, and was against the “attempt to malign the institution”. The Supreme Court had on Saturday morning urgently constituted a bench on the “independence of the judiciary”, where Gogoi rubbished the allegations.

“These are all false and cooked-up allegations and we condemn these kinds of acts,” Bar Council of India Chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra told the agency. “These kind of allegations and actions should not be encouraged. This is an attempt to malign the institution. Entire bar is standing in solidarity with the chief justice.”

Mishra said an emergency meeting of the Bar Council would be held on Sunday, where the members will pass a resolution in the matter and then inform Gogoi about it.

Also read: Chief Justice of India sexually harassed me, says former SC staffer in affidavit to 22 judges

The National Green Tribunal Bar Association claimed that the allegations were an attempt to target the top judiciary. “We condemn this attempt of targeting Indian judiciary,” Office-bearer Gaurav Kumar Bansal said. “There is an urgent need to find a better way of dealing with these kind of accusations. Such baseless allegations are enough to ruin the reputation of a judge… this way anyone can make any accusations against anyone.”

However, Supreme Court Bar Association President Rakesh Khanna, who was present during the hearing on Saturday morning, refused to comment on the matter. “We are not part of the case…There is no litigation before the court,” he said. “I am not giving any interview. Thank you.”

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Former Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh said some senior Supreme Court judges should conduct an in-house inquiry to determine the truth. “If it is a false allegation, then this definitely is a threat to independence of judiciary, but if it is true, then it is also very serious,” he said.

The case

A 35-year-old woman who used to work as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court of India wrote to 22 judges of the court on Friday, April 19, alleging that Gogoi had made sexual advances on her at his residence office on October 10 and 11 in 2018. In the affidavit, the woman said that after she rebuffed the chief justice, she was moved out of his residence office, where she had been posted in August 2018. Two months later, on December 21, she was dismissed from service. One of the three grounds for dismissal, as detailed in the inquiry report, was that she had taken casual leave for one day without approval.

The Supreme Court constituted a special bench on the “independence of the judiciary”, to sit immediately to address the matter on Saturday. As the hearing began, Gogoi said he had received communications from four media houses, including Scroll.in, about a letter from a former court employee alleging that Gogoi had harassed her. He said he did not “deem it appropriate” to reply to the allegations and that the employee had only been at the court for one-and-a-half months.

The complainant has a criminal background, Gogoi said. He added that there were two cases against her, and claimed that her allegations were part of a “bigger plot”, possibly one to “deactivate the office of the CJI”.

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Gogoi claimed that the judiciary was under serious threat but that the matter would be considered by senior judges of the court. The judges said an appropriate bench would hear the charges against Gogoi.

The chief justice claimed that no judge would decide cases if “this is the kind of attack we get”. “Reputation is the only thing we have,” LiveLaw reported him as saying. He said that the woman’s harassment charges had come up the week before he had to hear “important cases” and that it was an attempt to dissuade him from hearing those matters.

Gogoi also brought up his savings and said he had worked for 20 years and that this, the allegations, was his “reward” after so many years of service. Later, Gogoi’s name did not feature in the order sheet, although he was clearly part of the bench on Saturday morning.