Kolkata: Even as the nationwide demand for his resignation continued to grow on Human Rights Day Tuesday, a defiant A.K. Ganguly refused to step down as the chair of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
“I am not (resigning), that’s all,” was the former Supreme Court (SC) judge’s reply when asked by the media if he will step down as the rights panel chief after being indicted of “unwelcome behaviour” by an apex court judges’ panel probing the sexual harassment allegation against him.
In another show of defiance against the demand for his removal, Ganguly went on to preside over an event organised by the commission to observe World Human Rights Day.
“I would always request you to remember that those who fight for rights have to pay a price. Those who try to uphold the rights have to fight by paying a price,” he said, addressing the event.
Meanwhile, springing to Ganguly’s defence, former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee doubted the authority of the Supreme Court in probing the matter.
“I would not say the allegations are mala fide. Its overzealousness (of the probe panel),” Chatterjee told mediapersons on the sidelines of the event.
“I don’t understand under what authority they (probe panel) went for it and forthright decided not to touch any matter, what is the outcome,” said Chatterjee about the finding of the three-judge panel which indicted Ganguly of the charges, but did not recommend any action against him.
The probe panel cited retirement of Ganguly as an SC judge and the victim not being on the roll of the apex court for not recommending any follow-up action.
Chatterjee said the country will punish Ganguly if he is found guilty.
“Everybody has his honour and respect. Just because somebody is saying something doesn’t mean he will have to sacrifice. If proved guilty, the country will punish him,” added Chatterjee.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, of which Ganguly is a general council member and honorary professor, said it has taken a “serious” view of the charge levelled against him by a law intern.
Vice chancellor P. Ishwara Bhat said the university’s executive council would decide on the issue.
“The executive council has taken the intern case very seriously into account. The intern has so far not filed any specific complaint,” he said.
Asked whether justice in the case was not being delayed, the vice chancellor said: “We have certain procedures to follow. He is not coming to university. There is no work at all. He has no work.”
Following the allegations becoming public, Ganguly was “put under suspension” by the university.
The Trinamool Congress continued its tirade against Ganguly with Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien iterating the party’s demand that he should demit office on World Human Rights Day.
“It would be apt if Justice Ganguly chose the UN Human Rights Day to step down and cleanse his office. Sir, please don’t mock your office. Violators can’t be guardians,” O’Brien said on Twitter.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already written twice to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking urgent action against Ganguly. The Bharatiya Janata Party too now has joined the chorus seeking his removal.
Besides NGOs holding demonstrations, a public interest litigation has also been filed before the Calcutta High Court seeking his removal.
The National Commission for Women too has taken suo motu cognisance of the case.