Former woman judge seeks reinstatement, Madhya Pradesh HC opposes move in SC

The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday opposed the contentions of a fomer woman judicial officer that she was forced to put in her papers, as she was transferred after raising sexual harrassment allegations against one of its judges.

Appearing for MP HC, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a Supreme Court bench that “if the petitioner’s argument that transfer was due to a particular judge is to be accepted, it will have to inevitably accepted that the Chief Justice (of HC) and other judges were so amenable and pliable that one judge could convince them to transfer”.

Mehta pointed out that a judges’ inquiry committee had in its report tabled in Rajya Sabha in December 2017, cleared the HC judge of sexual harrassment allegations.

“If the committee’s findings are seen…two findings have been found to be non existent — sexual harassment allegations and hostile work environment”, Mehta told a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai. He said sitting judges had deposed in the matter and evidence examined.

“Sexual harassment against any woman is very serious issue, the allegation not being found right is also a serious issue,” he said and poitnd out that “an elaborate exercise was undertaken by the committee and all aspects were taken into account…”

Countering the arguments of senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for the former judge, Mehta said that “my friend can succeed only if it is proven that there was a hostile work environment for her, or she was compelled to resign”.

Jaising, while stating that “it is true she rendered resignation and the state accepted it”, however added that “my argument is, this resignation was coerced, as she was compelled to resign, to choose between her duties towards her daughter and her career as a working woman”.

“She is entitled to be reinstated,” Jaising submitted.

Jaising said, “Her representation to let her stay till the time her daughter completes (class) 12th was rejected. Her second representation to at least transfer her from Class A to B city, where there were colleges for her daughter, was rejected…. After the second application was rejected, out of sheer frustration of choosing between her duties as a mother and a judicial officer, she had to retire,” Jaising contended.

The hearing will resume on February 1. HC had earlier declined to reinstate the former judicial officer.

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