Ex-Indian judge faces heat over ‘sex assault’

Pressure mounts on A K Ganguly to quit as rights chief of West Bengal after details of alleged assault on intern emerge.

A K Ganguly has so far refused to quit as the chairman of the West Bengal state human rights commission
A K Ganguly has so far refused to quit as the chairman of the West Bengal state human rights commission

Pressure is mounting on former judge of India’s Supreme Court A K Ganguly to resign from his post as the chief of a state human rights commission following more details emerging on how he had allegedly tried to sexually misbehave with a law intern.

Ganguly,  who heads the West Bengal state human rights commission, has until now refused to step down despite being indicted by a top court panel over charges of sexual misbehaviour.

Leading lawyer  and India’s additional solicitor-general Indira Jaisingh on Monday made public the law intern’s affidavit she had given to the Supreme Court panel.

In December 2012,  a week after the gang-rape of a student had rocked the country,  Ganguly and the intern were ensconced in a five-star hotel room in the national capital where he was inquiring into an incidence of violence between two football teams.  She was assisting him in the inquiry. It was around 9pm and Ganguly had persuaded the intern to stay in his room and finish some work.

In the affidavit, widely reported in the media,  the intern said Ganguly poured out a glass of wine for himself and her, and then tried to physically get close to her.

The affidavit said, “… the judge approached me and, standing next to me, he put his hand on my head, and said, ‘You are very beautiful’. I immediately rose from my seat, but before I had a chance to respond to the statement, he caught hold of my arm…” The affidavit goes on to detail what happened next.

The intern then stormed out of the room but the judge followed her into the elevator and begged her not to leave, stated the affidavit.  The next day Ganguly finally messaged apologising to her when the intern resigned from her job.

Already facing a barrage of criticism for his alleged action, with the affidavit now becoming public,  all political parties too have joined in demands that Ganguly resign. 

Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal said it was time for Ganguly to go.  Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley has also demanded that he quit to protect the dignity of his office.

Activists are, meanwhile, pressurising the police to prosecute Ganguly for the alleged sexual misbehaviour. 

But, with Ganguly staying on,  it is now up to the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to take a decision to sack him as the post the retired judge occupies is a constitutional position.

Since December 16, 2012, when the Delhi gang rape shocked the nation,  unprecedented outrage has forced the government to tighten laws relating to sexual harassment and rape. Three of the accused in that rape are facing the death penalty. 

Source : Al Jazeera

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