A three-member panel investigating sexual harassment charges against S K Gangele, a sitting judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, has been reconstituted for the third time since it was set up last year by the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
A latest Rajya Sabha bulletin said Supreme Court judge Justice R Banumathi will now head the panel. Earlier, on March 17, Justice Rohinton F Nariman was appointed the presiding officer.
On February 10, Justice Ranjan Gogoi was made the head of the panel after Justice Vikramjit Sen retired as judge of the Supreme Court on December 31 last.
The successive bulletins have given no reasons for the reconstitution of the committee.
The other members of the panel, set up on April 15 last, are Justice Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, and eminent jurist K K Venugopal. Justice Sen was the first presiding officer of the panel.
Chairman Hamid Ansari had set up the panel after admitting a motion supported by 58 Rajya Sabha members to impeach Justice Gangele.
58 MPs, including Digvijaya Singh (Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Derek O’ Brien (TMC), Ram Gopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan (SP) had submitted a motion to Ansari for initiating the impeachment process against Justice Gangele for alleged sexual harassment of a woman judge in Gwalior.
The committee is investigating the charges and grounds for removal of the judge and will submit its report to the Rajya Sabha Chairman. The report will then be tabled in both Houses of Parliament along with evidence.
The motion lists three “grounds of misconduct” for impeachment: “Sexual harassment” of the woman judge; “victimisation” of the judge “for not submitting to his illegal and immoral demands”, including, but not limited to, transferring her from Gwalior to Sidhi; and “misusing” his position as the administrative judge of the MP High Court to use the subordinate judiciary to victimise the judge.
As per provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, if the motion is admitted, the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman constitutes an investigation committee consisting of three members.