The former Chief Justice Punjab has been accused by a woman of sexually assaulting her in the early 1990s. Justice Mudgal knew the woman through her cousin and their families had close relations too.
According to the woman, Mudgal had asked her for a cup of coffee at 11 pm in the night which she did not like but confirmed. “I wasn’t pleased about it, and that must have been some kind of basic instinct that I didn’t know how to read”.
Recalling what transpired that night after she prepared the coffee, she said that Mudgal grabbed the cup of coffee, place it on the table and slammed her on the bed. “I was down on the bed, and he was on top of me with full force. And I mean full force,” she alleged, grimacing.
“He slobbered all over me…It was disgusting…With her arms flailing and legs kicking, he finally relented and left the house. He didn’t go all the way. He didn’t rape me. But he did attack me,” she recalled.
She received bruises on her body during the tussle which she later showed to her cousin and a friend too. “When I saw myself the next day, I was covered in bruises. Even the exposed parts of my neck and shoulders were totally black and blue. I felt so ashamed, I remember thinking I had to cover the bruises that were exposed, and I wrapped myself up in a shawl,” she said.
The woman said that she chose to keep mum all these years as she did not want their families, who were quite close, to get hurt. But an alleged online sexual harassment of her daughter in 2016 by their neighbour and following the inaction of the police “magnified everything for her“. She decided to come out with her story when the MeToo movement hit the nation and texted Mudgal on WhatsApp on Oct 18. Mudgal asked her for permission to call her which she denied. Mudgal then contacted her cousin who speaking on behalf of Mudgal said that Mudgal had made a “mistake”. However, Mudgal denied terming the incident a mistake and said that her cousin might have used the word in order to resolve the matter.
“I did not say to him that I had made a mistake. However, it is possible her cousin may have used those words or even added something else in order to resolve the matter”, he reportedly said. The woman was infuriated by his action being termed as a “mistake”. “All these years later, what Mudgal did is still considered a mistake. He continues to justify his actions by saying he was sad and lonely. It was no mistake. It was a crime. With intent,” she said.
“I want to tell this story because my child has suffered the same fate — even if in a different way. If the keepers of the law are themselves the perpetrators, can any woman hope to have any justice?”, she said.
Justice Mudgal has denied all the allegations against him calling them “utterly false and baseless”. He reportedly said, “The alleged incident is said to have taken place more than 25 years ago. While I did have a few meals with her around that period, our friendship did not continue as I felt that we did not have much in common. However, the allegations that I went to her house or that I had assaulted her and caused bruises are utterly false and baseless. I have lived a life without moral blemish. I have worked and moved with women of different ages and different spheres of life without giving a cause for complaint to anyone.”