Former India judge quits rights commission

AK Ganguly resigns from West Bengal Human Rights Commission after mounting pressure over sexual misconduct allegations.

    AK Ganguly denies the allegations against him, but resigned despite this[Al Jazeera]
    AK Ganguly denies the allegations against him, but resigned despite this[Al Jazeera]

    A former supreme court judge in India has submitted his resignation from the West Bengal Human Rights Commission after his reputation was blighted by allegations of sexual misconduct, local media has reported.

    His resignation on Monday evening comes as India's Apex Court dismissed a petition that sought the quashing of the report in which a three-member panel of Supreme Court judges indicted the former justice, AK Ganguly, for unwelcome behaviour towards a female law intern.

    The intern, law graduate Stella James, accused Ganguly of making sexual advances towards her while they were working in a hotel room in New Delhi on December 24, 2012.

    The matter was brought to public attention when James wrote a blog about the incident in November 2013.

    “For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather”, she wrote

    Following this, the matter went public with the Indian Express, a leading newspaper, publishing the intern’s deposition made before the court on the matter.

    The three-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court accepted as prima facie James’s oral and written statement that Ganguly has committed an “act of unwelcome behaviour”.

    The committee, however, said that no legal action would be initiated against Ganguly as he had already retired from his services as a judge.

    'Crusading lordship'

    After his retirement Ganguly had taken up the post of chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

    As news of the allegations mounted, so did pressure on him to leave the position, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee calling for Ganguly’s removal and women's rights groups protesting against him.

    Ganguly resigned just before India’s apex court initiated the process of his removal.

    The former judge denied the allegations and said that “powerful interests” were against him due to some of the controversial judgements he delivered during his tenure.

    As Justice Ganguly he was named as one of the “crusading lordships” by India Today magazine.

    The person who had submitted the petition to have the damning report thrown out, M Padma Narayan Singh, said the politicians were cashing in on a rumour against Ganguly.

    "These are political pressures. The politicians are trying to cash on a rumour. This is a criminal law. They are taking a criminal law which was not in effect on that day when the incident is being quoted. How can you change the whole criminal system and the criminal law?" said Singh.

    However, Ganguly distanced himself from the petition and said he had no idea it had been filed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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