The full court of the Supreme Court of India met on the administrative side on December 5, 2013. They considered the report of the three Judges appointed by the Chief Justice of India to go into the allegations made by a former lady intern against a former Judge viz. Justice A.K. Ganguly. After recording the statement of the intern and the affidavits of three witnesses and of the former Judge the Committee has observed that the allegations prima facie disclose an act of unwelcome behavior (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature) by the former Judge in his room in the hotel on December 24, 2012. However, considering the fact that the court on the administrative side did not have a jurisdiction to deal with a retired judge and a former intern, the full court on the administrative side opined that no further follow up action could be taken by the court. The court further decided that if representations against former Judges are received, the same shall not be entertained by the administration of the court.
The decision of the full court, on the administrative side, is based on the rationale that since the court administratively cannot deal with a retired judge, no further action can be taken and it is up to the complainant and other authorities, to be at liberty to proceed with the matter in accordance with the law. This reasoning of the full court fails the test of conscience. Mahatma Gandhi had said, “there is a higher court than the courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts”. The administrative decision of the Supreme Court, is being closely watched by all citizens. Is the Court dealing with a former Judge, who currently holds the office as the Chairman, Human Rights Commission, West Bengal in the same way as it would have dealt with any other person who is or has been the holder of an exalted office ?
The Supreme Court functions predominantly on the Judicial side. Its functions are primarily Judicial. Its administrative functions deal only with administration and management of the court. When it is brought to the notice of the court that persons in high position have either abused their office, indulged in conduct unbecoming of the office, and the law enforcement agencies are likely to be overawed by the personality of the accused, the Supreme Court devised a concept of a ‘continuing mandamus’. The court nudges the investigation into action, and oversees the fact that the holder of the public office is to be dealt with in a manner as mandated by law. This is precisely what the bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly did in the 2G Spectrum case. The standard that the Supreme Court follows for every holder of High office and must apply even more sternly to a sitting or former judge of the court. Nobody should harass a lady. Certainly not holders of high Judicial offices . If they act in a conduct unbecoming of the office, that they hold, the dignity of the institution and the popular faith in the judgments of the Judicial institutions gets eroded. It is now incumbent on the Supreme Court of India to ensure that the law must take its own course. ‘Be you ever so high, as the law is above you”, the Supreme Court has repeatedly told us. It must apply the same yardstick to itself. If it has found a former Judge of the Supreme Court prima facie committed an offence, it cannot follow an escapist route and hold that on the administrative side it has no jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is fully empowered on the Judicial side to ensure that the law takes its own course. It cannot escape from its Judicial responsibility.
It must place the case before a bench of the court on the Judicial side which must monitor the investigations in order to ensure Justice and fairness. Justice Ganguly must face the investigations as an ordinary citizen stepping down from the office he holds.