The Indian Express today carries a detailed account of the alleged incident involving a young Intern and a former Supreme Court Judge viz. Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly. If it were an untested allegation, it might have been possible for Justice Ganguly to take a view that the law would take its own course and he would quit only if found guilty. This case, however, is a little different.
The Chief Justice of India had appointed a three-judge inquiry into the incident. Both the Intern and Justice Ganguly had given their versions to three sitting judges of the Supreme Court. Media reports indicate that the three-judges have found prima facie substance in the complaint of the Intern. It is, therefore, not merely an untested allegation. There is reason to believe on the basis of the report of the three judges that an offence could have been committed.
Since this involves a former judge of the Supreme Court, who is presently the Chairperson of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) – a person in a high position, Justice Ganguly, like Caesar’s wife, must be above suspicion. Today, he is suspected to have committed an unacceptable offence. 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 the political positions continue to stick to their office till the intensity of public opinion forces them out.