Kolkata/New Delhi: Retired Supreme Court judge A.K. Ganguly, facing a law intern’s accusations of sexual harassment, Friday quit as guest faculty of the National University of Juridical Sciences, but again denied the allegations against him.
Notwithstanding the nationwide clamour that Ganguly quit office as the West Bengal Human Rights Commission chairman, former chief justice of India Altamas Kabir said Ganguly has the right not to step down from the post.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court fixed Monday for hearing a public suit seeking to quash the complaint against Ganguly.
In his letter to NUJS Vice Chancellor P. Ishwara Bhat, Ganguly denied the intern’s allegations, but announced his decision to “voluntarily opt out” following reservations expressed by some faculty members about his continuing as a guest faculty.
“I strongly deny the allegation of sexual harassment made by her (law intern) against me. However, since some of the members of the faculty expressed their reservations about my continuance with NUJS as a member of the guest faculty, I voluntarily opt out of that position and do not want to continue as a member of the guest faculty and be a burden on NUJS,” Ganguly said in his letter.
The former judge said he bore no ill feelings towards the intern, and denied having called her a pawn in a political game.
“I have never said the female intern who made some allegations against me is a pawn in a political game. I have no ill feeling towards her and I wish her well in life,” he said.
The NUJS Thursday said it has dissociated itself from Ganguly since the allegation came up.
“Since the matter came up, he has not been part of the university framework,” an NUJS spokesperson said.
Faculty members last month asked the university to sever relations with Ganguly.
In New Delhi, following a petition seeking a direction to restrain the government from taking any action against Ganguly, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would hear the plea Monday.
The petitioner urged the court to quash the complaint as void and illegal as it was also time-barred under the sexual harassment law.
The plea also sought direction to restrain the government from removing Ganguly as chairman of the human rights panel and arresting him unlawfully.
Criticising political parties across the spectrum gunning for Ganguly, the petitioner urged the court to act against Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising as she was acting against professional ethics.
The petitioner said Ganguly was being maligned and was a victim of conspiracy as he had in an arbitration suspended Mohan Bagan for walking out of a football league match against East Bengal club.
The All India Football Federation subsequently revoked Mohan Bagan’s suspension but slapped a Rs.2 crore fine on it.
Meanwhile, quizzed about Ganguly’s refusal to quit as the human rights panel head, Altamas Kabir said: “He has the right to do so (not to resign). I will not say anything more.”
Asked to comment on whether the law intern, who has levelled the allegations against Ganguly, should file a police complaint, Kabir said: “That is what everybody is saying.”
On Thursday, the union cabinet cleared the home ministry’s proposal for a presidential reference to the Supreme Court for a probe into the allegations.
The proposal will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, who will then forward the matter to the chief justice of India, seeking a probe into the issue.
A three-member Supreme Court panel probing the allegations earlier indicted Ganguly of “unwelcome behaviour” towards the law intern.