New Delhi: The CPI-M on Thursday asked Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and the Supreme Court to "take the court out of the crises in which it is currently mired".
An editorial in the CPI-M organ "People's Democracy" said the crises in the Supreme Court had been aggravated by the way in which Gogoi and the court had handled the accusation of sexual harassment levelled against the Chief Justice by a former court employee.
It said that instead of ensuring complete transparency in the matter, the Chief Justice himself sat on judgment in the matter in a special bench along with two brother judges, thereby flouting every principle of natural justice.
"This bench went on to not only pronounce the CJI innocent but also to accuse the complainant of being part of a conspiracy by vested interests to paralyse the functioning of the Supreme Court. Both procedure and pronouncements invited much criticism."
Finding fault with the 'In-house committee' set up to look into the charges, the editorial said that instead of extending every kind of assistance to the complainant and conducting the enquiry in the most fair and transparent fashion possible, no 'outside' person was appointed a member of the committee and the complainant was not allowed to take a 'supporter' with her.
After the woman withdrew from the enquiry on the third day, the enquiry continued ex parte, a procedure that courts themselves have held objectionable and made subject to further judicial review.
On the fourth day, the CJI was declared exonerated on all counts.
"The process has further tarnished the reputation of the highest court and the CJI," the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.
"The sequence of events has left senior lawyers, jurists, women activists and citizens shocked. Their faith in the court of last resort and its head have been severely shaken," the editorial said.
"The present CJI should be reminded of what a former CJI, Justice J.S. Verma, had said: 'However high you may be, you are not above the law'."