The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that a judge “sending offensive and improper messages to a junior officer and flirting with her is not acceptable”.
The observation was made during a hearing of the petitions by a former judicial officer from Madhya Pradesh, appealing against the disciplinary action by the High Court in a sexual harassment case, said a report by LiveLaw.
“He is a senior judicial officer. His conduct should have been more appropriate while dealing with a lady officer junior to him”, Srivastava submitted.
Agreeing, Chief Justice SA Bobde said: “To flirt with a junior official is not an acceptable conduct for a judge”.
Senior Advocate R Balasubramanium, the petitioner’s counsel, submitted before the bench that the lady officer had withdrawn her complaint under the Sexual Assault Prevention Act and, hence, the disciplinary proceedings instituted by the High Court are not maintainable.
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramaninan, observed that the woman might have withdrawn the complaint “because of some embarrassment”, and that would not preclude the High Court from initiating separate departmental proceedings on its own.
The lawyer of the former judicial officer argued that during the promotion of his client, these charges were levelled only to hamper the process, NDTV reported.
“This phenomenon is ubiquitous. All kinds of allegations come during promotion. We cannot generalise it. In this case, there is (an) allegation,” the CJI replied.
“We are likely to make some sweeping observations in this case… you withdraw and contest the enquiry,” CJI Bobde told the ex-judicial Officer’s lawyer.
The apex court has adjourned the case by a week.