The #MeToo movement which has created a storm during the course of the past week has finally hit the Indian Judiciary. The Supreme Court has sent a notice to the registrar general of the Madhya Pradesh High Court seeking a reply within six weeks on a plea seeking a woman’s reinstatement who had quit as an additional district and sessions judge in July 2014 following alleged harassment by a senior judge.
As per reports, the woman alleges that the judge, who was her supervisor at the time, harassed her sexually from December 2013 till after her resignation on July 17, 2014. The former judicial officer, who was transferred from Gwalior to Sidhi, resigned as an additional district and sessions judge on the aforementioned date. The High Court judge against whom the woman has levelled allegations is now retired.
The woman has urged the Court to treat her resignation as “constructive termination” and claimed it was “neither voluntary nor conscious”. She has also reportedly written a letter to the Chief Justice of India explaining the reasons that forced her to resign.
Meanwhile, a Bombay High Court judge has also come out in support of the #MeToo movement. Justice Gautam Patel said, “I fully support women who are coming out and have the courage to speak because it takes a lot of courage to speak at any time.” He went on to add, “Why women have not come forward is a very serious problem and the reason is that because our world is so patriarchal and so biased that it does not allow our women to speak freely at times when they should or they could. We now need to have a discussion on how we are going to get rid of this completely damaged, mocked system that we have of judging this cause and come up with complete gender neutrality…taking #MeToo accusation and testing it while preserving the dignity, self-respect of the woman making those accusations”
It is pertinent to mention that Kolse Patil, a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, has also been accused of sexual harassment. As per the allegation, at the end of an interview with the alleged victim, he asked the woman why the top button of her kurta is open and said that he thought they can be ‘friends’.