The Supreme Court recently referred a Writ Petition filed by a practising Advocate of the Supreme Court to the Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) for consideration and appropriate action and further directed its registry to withhold the identity of the Petitioner and Respondent in the matter.

On December 15, 2023, the matter was listed before the Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti. During the hearing, SCBA President Senior Advocate Dr. Adish Aggarwala, who is arrayed as Respondent No.1, made submissions, prompting the Court to seek assistance from a senior lady member of the Bar. The 2nd Respondent in the Writ Petition is also a lawyer practising in the Supreme Court.

Justice Khanna inquired, "Can any senior lady member of the bar interact with her (Petitioner)?" Justice Khanna further suggested, "What is the issue? Should we have it in-camera? Should we discuss it in chambers, please? We will take it up in the chamber." Simultaneously, a lady advocate in the Court raised concern, stating, "May I request one thing, respected President should not use words like vulgar."

In response, Justice Khanna clarified, "I objected the moment somebody said something. The moment somebody said something, I said please stop. That is the reason why we will have it in chambers." The matter was accordingly passed over.

The Petitioner was assisted by Advocates Kumud Lata Das and Savitri Pandey.

Subsequently, as outlined in the uploaded order, the Court instructed its Registry to withhold the identities of the Petitioner and Respondent No. 2. Their names were explicitly prohibited from being disclosed in the cause lists or within the case's paper book(s)/file(s). Additionally, the Court urged the Petitioner to avail the services of the Counsellor at the Supreme Court Mediation Centre.

Furthermore, the Court specifically directed Respondent No. 2 to refrain from circulating any photographs or videos of the Petitioner. In addition, he was explicitly instructed not to engage with the petitioner through in-person meetings, phone calls, social media, or any other means of communication.

The Court also instructed its Registry to dispatch the Writ Petition, along with its Annexures, in a sealed cover to the Gender Sensitization Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC).

"We direct that the identity of the petitioner and respondent no. 2 will be suppressed, and their names will not be mentioned in the cause lists or in the paper book(s)/file(s) of the case. We request the petitioner to visit the Counsellor at the Supreme Court Mediation Centre. We direct respondent no. 2, who was present in Court in the morning, to ensure that he does not by himself or through any other person, circulate any photographs and/or videos of the petitioner. Respondent no. 2 will not contact or interact with the petitioner in person, on phone, on social media or by any other mode of communication. The Registry will prepare a copy of the present writ petitionWP(C) Diary No. 52330/2023 along with annexures and the same would be sent under sealed cover to the Gender Sensitization Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) of this Court for consideration and appropriate action", ordered the Court.

The Bench will now consider the matter in the second week of January 2024.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court GSICC was established with the crucial purpose of fulfilling a significant public role. Its mandate includes sensitizing the public to gender-related issues and addressing any complaints pertaining to sexual harassment within the Supreme Court precincts. The GSICC has been constituted by the powers conferred on the Chief Justice of India under Regulation 4 of the Gender Sensitization & Sexual Harassment of Women at the Supreme Court of India (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Regulations, 2013 (hereinafter ‘GSICC Regulations’).

Presently, Justice Hima Kohli serves as the Chairperson of the Supreme Court GSICC, with Justice B.V. Nagarathna serving as its Member.

Cause Title: X v. President Of SCBA Dr. Adish Aggarwal & Ors. [Diary No. 52330/2023]

Click here to read/download the Order