Justice Indu Malhotra will replace Justice N.V. Ramana on the three-member Supreme Court panel set up to look into allegations of sexual harassment, by a former court staffer, against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The panel, comprising Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Indira Banerjee, was set up on Tuesday after a full-court meeting of all Supreme Court judges, except the Chief Justice.
The selection of judges for the panel was made by Justice Bobde, the number two judge as per seniority.
However, Justice Ramana recused himself on Thursday after the complainant raised objections on his inclusion, claiming he was a close friend of the CJI.
The complainant also sought appointment of women judges on the panel. In a letter to the earlier panel, she wrote: “Because of this I fear my affidavit and evidence will not receive an objective and fair hearing.”
In a letter recusing himself, Justice Ramana said: “I categorically reject these baseless and unfounded aspersions on my capacity to render impartial judgment in this matter.”
Clarifying his stand, he said his decision was based on “the intent to avoid any suspicion that this institution will not conduct itself in keeping with the highest standards of judicial propriety and wisdom”.
Justice Malhotra was a member of the Vishakha Committee that chalked out guidelines to address sexual harassment at workplace. She is also on the committee constituted to deal with in-house sexual harassment complaints in the court.
She is the second woman judge to be inducted in the apex court, after Justice R. Banumathi.