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Supreme Court judges want no women staff or interns

New Delhi, Nov 26 (): Supreme court judges after the sexual harassment complaint by a woman lawyer against a retired Supreme Court judge have made a few judges asking their Chief Justices to remove all women staff and not appoint any female lawyer interns, said Indira Jaising while speaking on the occasion of International Day to End Violence against Women.

In the 30-minute lecture on the developments made in 2013 after the December 16 Delhi gang-rape incident, Jaising discussed the various changes made in the law. The redefinition of rape and sexual harassment in the law, the senior lawyer also made a scathing critique of the bias in dealing with the law for violence against women.

In the cases of Supreme court judge and woman journalist, it was a failure of institutional responses, said Jaising, adding that an employer has to bring a sexual harassment or assault complaint to the notice of the police.

A woman lawyer, whose complaint of sexual harassment by a retired Supreme Court judge during her internship last December, had earlier expressed her satisfaction of the three member panel probe into her plea.

Now, she says that she has to constantly justify to the panel appointed by Supreme Court that she is not lying and feels humiliated while appearing before the SC three-member probe panel. The lawyer told the Wall Street Journal that it took her time to come to realize the fact that she had been assaulted.

When she finally did realize that it was sexual harassment, all that she wanted to do was to forget the incident since it was from a man she had admired, and looked up to him, said the 22-year-old lawyer. The judge has not been named by her in the interview.

At first, she had thought over the idea of legal recourse, but she feared that it could cause harm than good. For one, the case would have dragged on for several years.

Secondly, defense lawyers would make her narrate every violating moment in court, which she wanted to forget at the time. Thirdly, in cases of sexual harassment, where there is no physical evidence to prove , it’s her word against the other. She said the chance of a law graduate winning over a Supreme Court judge with a clean record was also bleak.

She said that the Supreme Court panel, is looking at her with suspicious eyes. She said that the Indian legal system is not equipped enough to sensitively deal with crimes like sexual harassment against women.

She spoke to her family after five months about the incident. She said they were not in favour of a formal complaint and her mother asked her to accept it and move on with life.

All that she wanted to do was bring focus on the day-to-day sexual harassment in India’s courts. She also felt writing about it that would perhaps give her relief. She appeared before Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Justice HL Dattu and Justice RM Lodha, the panel investigating her allegations on November 18.

The lawyer, who wrote a blog on the website Legally India, had complained of sexual harassment by a Supreme court judge in a Delhi hotel room in December when the Capital was witnessing protests following the gang-rape of a paramedic student. She had not expected it to go viral but is all the same happy that it has caught national attention and sparked debates.

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