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Millennium Post

When the judge becomes errant

It is deeply saddening to note that one of those in whom we are told to lay our complete trust has turned from an arbitrator of our characters to someone who morality and ethical standing are now suspect in the eyes of law. The recent allegations of sexual assault against a retired Supreme Court judge by a law intern have shaken the collective conscience of the nation and put the judiciary in the dock. Even though there has been a three-member bench set up to look into the matter, under the aegis of the chief justice of India, P Sathasivam, the matter is one of extreme shame and is rather disturbing. Obviously, the CJI’s categorical statement that sexual harassment cases wouldn’t be tolerated and assurance that necessary steps would be taken, such revelations do much to shake people’s faith in the judiciary. Although the law graduate’s assertion that the errant judge was ‘old enough to be her grandfather’ appears to be an ageist comment, the fact of the matter is that the allegations indicate sexual assault and breach of propriety, which is enough to merit a thorough probe into them.

But what is astonishing and extremely unnerving is the timing of the alleged event. Apparently, it took place at the time when city-wide agitations and mass protests had turned the Capital into a war zone, with students, civil society activists and men and women pouring into the streets in the wake of the 16 December gang rape. To think that the massive demonstrations made no impact on the octogenarian Supreme Court judge, who, in all probability, had some time presided on a criminal case that involved sexual assault or rape, baffles the mind. Indeed, while the law intern’s decision to wage a legal battle against a former justice is commendable, it is not without resounding irony. More often than not, interns and students, being at the receiving end of the power spectrum, would be intimidated to think about taking on the wolves in sheep’s garb and beat them with their own weapon. We must stand by the braveheart when she needs us the most.
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