Open Letter to the Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court from women's movement group

Open Letter to the Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court from women's movement group including AIPWA, other people's organizations, lawyers, academics,  activists and concerned citizens  demanding that the in-house committee cease its present enquiry and instead a Special Enquiry Team be constituted in the extraordinary circumstances and all procedures as per Vishaka Guidelines and SH Act be followed by the Apex Court, and expressing solidarity with the courageous complainant.

.......................................................
                                                               
2nd May 2019

To, 
The Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court of India
New Delhi

We, members of women’s groups, lawyers, scholars and civil society, stand in solidarity with the decision of the complainant to withdraw from the in-house committee proceedings into her complaint of sexual harassment at workplace, against the Chief Justice of India. 

The reasons given by her in the letter justify her decision to abstain, especially in the context of total imbalance of power vis-a-vis her on one side and the members of highest judiciary on the other.

Post the complainant expressing her decision not to participate in the process, the Chief Justice of India is said to have appeared before the Committee and the Committee has decided to proceed with the enquiry ex-parte. 

By this very conduct the committee has completely delegitimized itself. If the committee continues to proceed with the enquiry instead of satisfactorily concluding the matter it will raise many more questions.

We write again, calling upon the Supreme Court judges to take corrective steps and put a halt to these proceedings. 

If they fail to do so, not only the complainant but the citizens of this country, especially women and marginalized sections, will lose faith in the judicial system. 

We are aware, that this is an extraordinary case that calls for extraordinary measures to be put in place, as this is a matter pertaining to the highest judicial authority under the constitution. However, extraordinary measures cannot and ought not to overlook, fundamental principles of natural justice and fair hearing. 

We reiterate that the constitution of the three judge Committee is inherently flawed, as the Chief Justice is senior to the three judges hearing the complaint and head of the Institution. The Committee also does not adhere to the spirit of either the 2013 Act or the Vishaka Guidelines, laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court itself in 1997.  

The absence of an external member, whose role is to ensure that there is no undue pressure or influence on either the complainant or the witnesses during the enquiry, casts a shadow on the intent behind and the purpose of setting up this Committee itself. 

Further, failing to stipulate the procedure to be followed, terming the proceeding as an ‘informal’, and not allowing a lawyer/support person to be present, completely ignores the unequal balance of power not only between the parties but also between the complainant and the Committee itself. 

The procedure established by law has not only to be followed by those subordinates to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, but by the Supreme Court itself. Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India would have no meaning otherwise. 

If the highest judicial authority does not follow its own procedures and stand up in support of the less powerful, it will send a message of disquiet to all those keeping faith in the system. 

In order to maintain this faith and to stand with the less powerful, the complainant in this case, we implore the present Committee to immediately stop hearing this Complaint.

We once again demand of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India:

a) A Special Enquiry Committee consisting of credible individuals be constituted to conduct a thorough enquiry at the earliest and create an atmosphere of transparency and confidence for the complainant to depose.

b) The Special Enquiry Committee should follow the norms of the IC and the principles of natural justice and accordingly conduct its enquiry.

c)   The Chief Justice of India should refrain from transacting official duties and responsibilities until the completion of the enquiry. 

d) The complainant must be allowed to be represented by a lawyer/support person of her choice.

Endorsed By, 

1.  Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai  
2. Nari Samata Manch, Pune
3. North East Network, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland 
4. Labia - A Queer Feminist LBT Collective Mumbai
5. Saheli Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi  
6. Bebaak Collective
7. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra
8. National Federation of Indian Women
9. All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA)  
10. Nari Ekta Shakti Sangathan, Delhi
11. Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
12. National Alliance of People’s Movements 
13. Nirantar, A Center for Gender and Education, New Delhi 
14. Sandhya Gokhale, FAOW
15. Veena Gowda, Advocate, Mumbai
16. Adv Vasudha Nagaraj,  Lawyer,  High Court of Telangana,  Hyderabad 
17. Chayanika Shah, Queer Feminist Researcher and Activist, Mumbai
18. Nisha Biswas,  Scientist and WSS,  Kolkata
19.  Dr. Veena Shatrughna,  Former Director,  National Institute of Nutrition,  Hyderabad
20. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, Transgender RTI activist, Telangana
21.  Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People's Movements, Telangana
22.  Kavita Srivastava, PUCL 
23. Adv. Pyoli Swatija, Supreme Court of India and WSS
24. Flavia Agnes, Advocate 
25.  Gautam Mody, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
26. Sandhya, Progressive Association of Women, Telangana 
27. V. Geetha, Historian and Writer, Chennai  
28. N. Vasanti, Professor of Constitutional Law, Nalsar, Hyderaba
29. Mary E John, New Delhi 
30. Uma Chakravarti, Historian, New Delhi
31. Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
32. Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai 
33. Meena Gopal, Mumbai 
34. Hasina Khan, Mumbai
35. Shals Mahajan, Mumbai  
36. Rohit Prajapati, Vadodara 
37. Susie Tharu,  Feminist Academic and Researcher, Avneshi, Hyderabad 
38.  Amit Kumar, Student, LLB, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
39.  Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women's Support Alliance
40.  Bijaya Chanda, Advocate, Alipore Court, Kolkata, West Bengal
41.  Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social activist. Chennai.
42. Sumi Krishna, Former President (2005-08), Indian Association for Women's Studies, Bengaluru
43. Kiran Shaheen,  Journalist and Feminist Activist,  New Delhi
44.  Uma Shankari,  Farmer,  Researcher on Water,  Environment and Livelihoods
45. Chitra, Labia, Mumbai
46. Adv Lara Jesani,  People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL),  Maharashtra
47. Vandita Morarka, Founder/CEO, One Future Collective
48. Tara, Feminist Collective, Sonepat 
49. Saumya Malhotra, Democracy Collective , Delhi NCR
50. Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM Lucknow,U P
51. Lovika Jaiswal, Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, Noida
52. Leena Pujari, K C College, Mumbai..
53.  Vimal Bhai, National Convenor, National Alliance of People's Movements
54.  B.Girija, State Project Manager, Sakhi Telangana
55.  Meena Seshu and Aarthi Pai, Sangram, Maharashtra
56. Gita Chadha, Sociologist, Mumbai
57. Shruti Chakravarty, Mental Health Practitioner, Bombay
58. Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St Stephen's College, Delhi University. Former President, Delhi University Teachers' Association and Federation of Central Universities Teachers' Associations
59. Mitra Mukherjee-Parikh, Former Head, Associate Professor, SNDTWU
60.  Dr. Joseph M.T., Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai, Kalina, Mumbai
61. Rukmini Banerjee, Researcher, Mumbai
62.  Kabi. S, Mumbai
63. Dr V Rukmini Rao, Executive Director Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Tarnaka, Secunderabad, Telangana
64. Karuna DW, Chennai 
65.  Padmaja Shaw 
66. Purnima Gupta, Delhi
67. Khadijah Faruqui, The Alternate Space Delhi, A Women’s Collective, New Delhi
68. Tanya Jaiswal, Modern school, Noida
69. Supriya Jain, CORO India, Mumbai
70. K Ramnarayan, Uttarakhand, India
71. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Humans Rights Activist, Mumbai
72. Bharat, Feminist Activist, Vishakha, Jaipur 
73. Shahira Naim, Special Correspondent, The Tribune, Lucknow
74.  Aiman Khan, Bangalore
75. Varsha Mehta 
76. Roshni, Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
77. Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, Ahmedabad
78. Meher Bhoot, WDC, University of Mumbai, Mumbai
79. Kusumtai Chaudhari Mahila Kalyani C/o Snehja Rupwate 
80. Anupama Potluri, Assistant Professor, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
81.  Minakshi Sanyal, Queer feminist activist, Kolkat
82. Poushali Basak, FAOW, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
83. Anita Rego, Social Researcher
84. Smita Parmar, Social Activist, Hajipur, Bihar
85.  Swabhiman Lok Seva Sansthan run by Medical Mission Sisters 
86. Aruna Rodrigues,Environmental and Agro-ecology, Sunray Harvesters, MP
87. Subhasat 
88. Bindu Doddahatti, Advocate, Bangalore
89.  Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism
90. A. Suneetha, Senior Fellow, Anveshi Research Center for Women’s Studies
91. Dr. Asma Rasheed, Assistant Professor, EFL University 
92. Sumitra Anukram, Founder of Anukram 
93. Madhumita Sinha, EFL University, Hyderabad 
94. Sajaya K., Independent Journalist and Social Activist, Caring Citizens Collective 
95. Khalida Parveen, General Secretary Amoomat Society 
96. Madhavi Mirapa, Scholar 
97. Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University, Hyderabad 
98. Jayasree Subramanian, Visiting Faculty, Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, Mumbai 
99. Aileen Marques, Advocate Mumbai
100. Pratibha Shinde, Lok Sangharsh Morcha,  Nandurbar, Maharashtra
101. Bittu K., Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Telangana Hijra Intersex Trans Samiti, Asawarpur, Haryana 
102. Tara Murali, Architect, Chennai
103. Padma, Human Rights Activist
104. Samar Bagchi, Educationist and Former Director, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata
105. Nandini Rao, Feminist Trainer and Activist, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression,  New Delhi
106. Sandeep Pandey,  Socialist Activist and NAPM,  UP
107.  M. Mandakini, Lawyer 
108. Kondaveeti Satyavati Bhumika, Hyderabad 
109. Sherin B.S.,English and Foreign Languages University
110.  Lawrence, President, Inigo Foundation
111.  Madhurima Majumder, Assistant Professor, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development
112.  Shyamala Nataraj, South India AIDS Action Programme 
113.  Anupama J, Counselor
114.  M.Sujatha, SPERDS NGO
115.  Jayna Kothari, Senior Advocate 
116. Bindulakshmi, Mumbai
117. Suresh Melettukochy, Bhopal
118. Jai Sen, Researcher and Editor, New Delhi 
119. Shubhada Deshmukh, Mahila Arogya Parishad, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra 
120. Sana Contractor, Public Health Researcher, New Delhi
121. Nandita Gandhi, Activist, Mumbai 
122. Manisha Gupte, Feminist, MASUM, Pune
123. Madhu Madhavan, Ex. JJP Member, Current PhD student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai 
124. Vimalbhai, Matu Jan Sangatgan, Uttarakhand 
125. Mamta Singh, Social Worker, Women Rights Activist, Lucknow, UP 
126. Rama Melkote, Prof.(Retd) or Political Science, Senior Activist, Osmania University, Hyderabad
127. S Jeevan Kumar, Human Rights Forum  
128. K Sudha, Assistant Professor, DSNLU, Member, Human Rights Forum 
129. K Anuradha, Human Rights Forum
130. Janaki Nair, JNU, New Delhi
131. Sujata Patel, Indian Institute of Advanced Study
132. Sukla Sen, Mumbai 
133. K. Kiran Mayee, Advocate
134. V. Naga Lakshmi, Advocate
135. Mohammed Shakeel, Advocate
136. Ranjana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Bhubaneswar 
137. Kalpana Karunakaran, IIT Madras 
138. Kavitha Muralidharan, Journalist, Chennai 
139. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Kochi  
140. Prema Revati, Educationist
141. Rachana Mudraboyina, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti
142. Saheli, Women’s Resource Center, New Delhi
143. Vasudha Katju, Researcher, New Delhi 
144. Aisha Farooqui, Prof. (Retd) Osmania University  
145. Swathy Margaret, Researcher  
146. S.  Ashalatha, Social Activist    
147. Radhika Khajuria, New Delhi  
148. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi  
149. Ketki Ranade, Mumbai  
150. Asha Achuthan, Mumbai  
151. Vineeta Bal, Pune.    
152. Anjali Rawat, Law Researcher  
153. Anubha Rastogi, Lawyer, Mumbai  
154. Madhu Bhushan  
155. Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice, Himachal Pradesh  
156. Pragya Joshi, PUCL, Udaipur  
157. Dr. Albertina Almeida, Advocate, Goa.  
158. Vennela Madabhushi, Lawyer, Bangalore
159. Anuradha Pati, Development Professional
160. Soma KP, Independent Research Scholar 
161. Lata Singh, JNU
162. Urmilla Chandran, Principal Technical Writer
163. Kaneez Fatima, Activist and Librarian
164. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships 
165. Masooma  Ranalvi, We SpeakOut
166. Srinivas Vellikad, Senior Manager, Documentation.
167. S. Seethalakshmi, Researcher
168. Lakshmi Lingam, Professor, Mumbai
169. Sunkara Rajendra Prasad, Advocate, Vijayawada
170. Vahida Nainar, Mumbai
171. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
172. Jayasree.A K., Professor, Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Kannur, Kerala  
173. Shaitan Singh, Law Student, Visakhapatnam  
174. Anjana Ramanathan, Advocate 
175. Piyoli Swatija, Advocate
176. VS Krishna, Human Rights Forum  
177. Smita Gupta, New Delhi  
178. Geeta Seshu, Journalist  
179. Lakshmi Krishnamurthy 
180. Reva Yunus, Azim Premji University  
181. Ritu Dewan, Vice  President at Indian Society of Labour Economics  
182. Sarojini.N, New Delhi  
183. Brinelle D'souza, TISS  
184. Deeptha Achar, Professor, Baroda  
185. Shilpaa Anand, BITS- Pilani, Hyderabad campus  
186. Shefali Jha, University of Hyderabad  
187. M.  Madhavi, Assistant Professor, Presidency University, Bangalore  
188. Kumar Shubham Raj, Advocate, Bihar  
189. Bushra Quasmi, Asst Prof, DSNLU, Visakhapatnam 
190. B Syama Sundari, Dastakar Andhra  
191. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori  
192. Ambika Tandon, New Delhi  
193. Anandhi.S, Researcher, Chennai
194. Shalini Gera, Advocate, Bilaspur High Court  
195. Govind Kelkar, Senior Advisor - Women, Land & Productive Assets  
196. Sharmila Sreekumar, IIT, Bangalore  
197. PV Srividya, Journalist, Krishnagiri  
198. K.  Katyayani, Prof (Retd), Kakatitya University, Warangal  
199. Deepa V health Activist, Delhi 
200. Sunita Bandewar, Forum for Medical Ethics Society, Mumbai; Vidhayak Trust, Pune  
201. Anuradha  Kapoor, Kolkata  
202. Veena Johari, Advocate, Mumbai 
203. Mumtaz Sheikh, CORO Mahila Mandal federation Mumbai  
204. Rohini Hensman, Writer & Researcher  
205. Dr  Sagari R Ramdas, Veterinary Scientist    
206. Tashi Choedup, Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist 
207. Aditi Joshi, Mumbai  
208. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai  
209. Kaveri Dadhich, Mumbai  
210. Padma, Independent Researcher , Mumbai    
211. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Ooty  
212. R.  Alphonso, Mumbai  
213. Neha Singh, Mumbai  
214. Shewli Kumar, Mumbai  
215. Bharati Kapadia, Mumbai  
216. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Mumbai  
217. Catrinel Dunca, Ahmedabad    
218. Nirja Vasavada, Ahmedabad  
219. Shumona  Goel  
220. Mani A., Kolkata  
221. Kamaxi Bhate, Mumbai  
222. Mridul Dudeja, Mumbai  
223. Rakhi Sehgal, Labour Activist, New Delhi 
224. Gayatri, Faculty, TISS, Hyderabad  
225. Abhiti Gupta, Legal Activist, New Delhi  
226. Maneka Khanna, Advocate, Delhi  
227. Surabhi Dhar, Advocate, Delhi  
228. Zeba Sikora, Advocate, Mumbai   
229. Rupali Samuel, Advocate, Delhi  
230. Payoshi Roy, Advocate, Mumbai   
231. Archit Krishna, Advocate, Chattisgarh  
232. Satnam Kaur, New Delhi  
233. Reethika Ravikumar, Mumbai  
234. Mini Mathew, Advocate, Mumbai 
235. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi 
236. Fatima N, Tamil Nadu 
237. Poorva Rajaram, Researcher, New Delhi 
238. Vanessa Chishti, Jindal Law University, Sonipat  
239. Esther Moraes, New Delhi  
240. Niti Saxena, Lawyer, Researcher, and Activist, Lucknow
241. Tusharika Mattoo, Advocate, Delhi
242. Maulshree Pathak, Advocate Delhi 
243. Shreya Munoth, Advocate, Delhi
244. Sayali Kadu, Advocate, Delhi
245. Shuchi Dwivedi, Advocate, Delhi 
246. Rhea Goyal, Advocate, Delhi
247. Sowjhanya Shankaran, Advocate, Delhi
248. Anushree Malviya, Advocate, Delhi
249. Sonal Sarda, Advocate, Delhi
250. Sanya Kumar, Advocate, Delhi
251. Shreya Rastogi, Advocate, Delhi
252. Harshita Reddy, Advocate, Delhi
253. Sanjana Srikumar, Advocate, Delhi 
254. Avantika, Advocate Delhi 
255. Ninni Susan Thomas, Advocate Delhi
256. Nidhi Rao Gummuluru, Advocate, Delhi
257. Vasundhara Majithia, Advocate Delhi
258. Meghana Sengupta, Advocate Delhi 
259. Shailiza Sharma, Advocate, Delhi High Court  
260. Kanika Sood, Advocate Delhi  
261. Kruti Venkatesh, Advocate, Bombay High Court  
262. Bhavana Sunder, Advocate, Bombay High Court 
263. Rhea Jha, Advocate, Bombay High Court
264. Devyani Kulkarni, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
265. Khusboo Agarwal, Bombay
266. Sara Ahmed, Bombay
267. Surabhi Singh, Advocate, High Court at Bombay
268. Ronita Bhattacharya, Advocate, High Court, Bombay
269. Jahnavi Vishwanath, Chennai
270. Janaki Abraham, Delhi University
271. Dimple Oberoi Vahali
272. Vandana Mahajan, A Feminist Practitioner  
273. Lalita Ramdas, Educator and Citizen, Alibag, Maharashtra
274. Chitra Sinha, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University, Sweden
275. Vasudha Sawaiker, Social Justice Action Committee, Goa 
276. Amita Kanekar, Writer, Goa
277. Adsa Fatima, Health Activist, Delhi
278. Dr Mira Shiva  
279. Dr. Saswati Ghosh, Academic and Activist, Kolkata  
280. Amita Pitre, Consultant, Public Health and Gender Justice, Mumbai
281. Gayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court
282. Bindhulakshmi, Mumbai 
283. Radhika Desai, Hyderabad 
284. Ritu Menon, New Delhi
285. Shraddha Chickerur, Hyderabad 
286. Svati Joshi, Ahmedabad  
287. Aruna  Burte, Pune
288. Malavika Karlekar, New Delhi 
289. Sujata Gothoskar, Trade Union Activist, Mumbai 
290. Nalini Nair, SEWA, Kerala 
291. Sangeeta Chatterji, FAOW 
292. Nisha, National Convenor, WSS  
293. Ajita, National Convenor, WSS  
294. Shalini, National Convenor, WSS 
295. Rinchin, National Convenor, WSS  
296. Hiranmay  Karlekar, New Delhi 
297. Rina Mukerji, Independent Journalist
298. Vibhuti Patel, Mumbai
299. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
300. Swarna Rajgopalan, Chennai 
301. Chittaroopa Palit, Madhya Pradesh
302. Bondita Acharya, Human Rights Activist, Assam 
303. Bela Bhatia, Bastar 
304. AI Sharada, Laadli, Population First
305. Amit Mitra, New Delhi
306. Sujata Mody, National Secretary, New Delhi Trade Union Initiative
307. M. Dilli, Joint Secretary, Garment and Fashion Workers Union, Chennai 
308. Anju Talukdar, Independent law and development professional, New Delhi
309. Vidha Saumya, Visual Artist, Oshiwara, Mumbai 
310. Jasveen Jairath, Consultant, Water and Ecology, Concerned Citizens, Hyderabad 
311. Shreya Suresh, Advocate, Bangalore
312. Sowmya Khandelwal, Associate at a Law Firm, Bangalore
313. M.V. Swaroop, Advocate, Madras High Court 
314. Tashi Choedip, Queer Buddhist Activist, Bodhgaga, Bihar
315. Mangla Verma, Advocate, New Delhi
316. Chitra Narayan, Advocate, Chennai
317. Anusha Ramanathan, Visiting Faculty, University of Mumbai, Consultant, TISS
318. Richa, Humsafar, Lucknow
319. Sunila Singh, Woman Human Rights Defender, New Delhi
320. Zainab, Humsafar, Lucknow
321. Afroz Jahan, Humsafar, Lucknow 
322. Anurekha, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 
323. Lalita, National Alliance of Women’s Organizations, Odisha 
324. Sister Lissy Joseph, National Domestic Workers Movement, Hyderabad 
325. Nikhat Fatima, Journal Activist 
326. Vasundhara Vedula, Mumbai
327. Swatija Manorama, Mumbai
328. Amrita Howlader, Kolkata
329. Nazia Akhter, Hyderabad
330. Swarup Beria, Guwahati 
331. Arpita Jaya, Quill Foundation 
332. Sheela Rahulan, Vanithakalasahithi, Trivandrum 
333. Dr. Iris Koileo, Assocaite Professor (Retd.), St. Xavier’s College, Women Writers Group, Vinimaya, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

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