Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by a judicial officer who was removed from the service under the charges of sexual harassment. A female Ahlmad (judicial assistant) had posed sexual harassment allegations against the officer at the Dwarka District Court in 2016, who was serving as an additional judge.
The bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon stated that the Full Court of Delhi High Court had given ample opportunities to the Delhi Higher Judicial Officer (DHJO) to prove his stand. The bench also drew attention to the 2019 judgment by Supreme Court and stated that even Supreme Court had held that there was no perversity with the order passed by the disciplinary committee.
“Having judicially examined the report, not only as to the procedure followed and opportunities at each and every stage provided to the petitioner but also on merits, we are more than convinced, of the conclusion having been rightly drawn on the basis of material on record that the allegations of sexual harassment against the petitioner, stand proved,” stated the 32-page judgment of Delhi High Court bench.
The observations have been made while hearing a plea filed by the judicial officer challenging his dismissal from the service by the Delhi government in March 2020 following the recommendations of the Full Court of Delhi High Court. The officer had demanded his restoration in service along with all consequential benefits.
The incident took place in July 2016. The complainant who used to work with the accused as a junior judicial assistant filed a complaint and alleged sexual harassment by the officer. She forwarded her complaint to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court seeking appropriate action against the judicial officer.
The complainant woman stated that she worked with the accused between the time period of May 18, 2015, and May 18, 2016. Taking cognizance of the allegations, the Registrar General of Delhi High Court directed SHO to file an FIR against the officer and also suspended him.
However, the dismissed additional judge refuted all the allegations and claimed that the woman had leveled false sexual harassment charges against him. He submitted that he had issued a notice to her over some missing documents on July 5, 2016, and then a complaint was filed against him on July 11, 2016.
He also argued that the Internal Complaint Committee appointed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (Sexual Harassment Act) didn’t exonerate him, even when it should have.
The counsel appearing for the judicial officer also contended that the copy of the report detailing the findings by ICC of March 9, 2018, was also not provided to the officer even after the report didn’t find any proven allegation.
Referring to the Supreme Court 2019 ruling, the bench observed, “The apex court had held that there was no error in the decision of the Full Court of the Delhi HC of July 13, 2016, to suspend the petitioner and initiate inquiry proceedings against him.”
The two-judge bench also noted that the defence taken by the judicial officer had already been exhausted before the apex court. “SC had held the proceedings culminating in the report, proving the sexual harassment charge was validly instituted against him,” the court said.