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Flirtatious WhatsApp Messages from a Judge to a Junior Officer Draw Warning from SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court made strong observations on the conduct of a Madhya Pradesh district judge, who sent offensive and inappropriate messages to a junior officer and justified this conduct as mere “flirting.”
A former Madhya Pradesh District Judge moved to the High Court challenging disciplinary proceedings initiated by the Madhya Pradesh High Court for allegations of sexual harassment made by a junior judicial official.
Senior Defender Ravindra Shrivastava together with Defender Arjun Garg, representing the Madhya Pradesh High Court, read several WhatsApp messages sent by the District Judge to a junior officer. Shrivastava said that he is a senior judicial official; therefore, his conduct should have been more appropriate to the official lady.
A bank headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice SA Bobde and composed of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said: “WhatsApp messages are quite offensive and inappropriate. For a judge, this conduct with a junior officer is not acceptable.” The bank asked if they understand each other, is it good to move on? However, the bench added that the petitioner has already learned a lesson and pointed to an agreement between the parties.
Shrivastava replied that the female officer wanted a settlement, but the High Court committee investigating this matter did not accept it. It added that the petitioner admitted that he was flirting with the lady. “What kind of judicial officer is this? We don’t understand him,” Shrivastava added. At this stage, the Chief Justice said that he agrees with Shrivastava’s submissions.
Lead attorney R Balasubramanian, on behalf of the district judge, alleged that the official withdrew her complaint under the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act, making the disciplinary procedures of the higher court unsustainable.
The court asked Balasubramanian, the woman may have withdrawn the complaint, but the more important question is whether the investigation should be carried out by the higher court.
Balasubramanian reiterated that the newly tried judicial officer told the higher court that the officer withdrew her complaint, but that departmental proceedings have been initiated against her client.
The Chief Justice pointed out that he may have thought it was a private conversation, and the matter before the gender awareness committee came to an end after the lady refused to participate. The court reiterated: “The higher court wants to proceed, and its duty is to do so limited to disciplinary proceedings. What is it in the law that can impede the higher court proceedings?”
Shrivastava claimed that the higher court is proceeding with the matter even after the petitioner’s retirement, as he wanted to “send a strong message.”
Balasubramanian argued that these charges were filed during his client’s promotion only to ruin his chances of being promoted. The president of the Supreme Court responded that this phenomenon is omnipresent. “All kinds of accusations come during the promotion. We cannot generalize it. In this case there is a complaint ”, observed the bench.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Chief Justice said that “it is likely that we will make some general observations in this case, you withdraw and refute the investigation.” After a detailed hearing on the matter, the higher court adjourned the matter for a week.

Times of India

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