Clean chit to CJI causes ire, agony over Gurgaon ‘aunty’, Muzaffarpur murders

The 7 May edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Asavari Singh
May 7 · 5 min read

Protests erupted outside the Supreme Court today after an inquiry panel of three judges announced that there was “no substance” in the sexual harassment allegations against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi. The story has dominated many newspaper front pages, with most sections of the media criticising the Supreme Court’s handling of the matter.

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The culture of gender violence in India extends how we make and consume ‘entertainment’, writes NewsTracker’s Tasmin Kurien in ‘Why not-so-fallen star Dileep is just a symptom of misogyny in the Malayalam film industry’. Dileep, whose trial was stayed by the Supreme Court last week, has been accused of masterminding the sexual assault of another actor in Kerala.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

The former Supreme Court staffer who accused CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment has said that the dismissal of her allegations was a “gross injustice” and that she is “terrified” of the fallout. The complainant had earlier stopped participating in the inquiry because she was not allowed to have a lawyer present and due to other factors that created a “frightening” atmosphere for her.

Many media commentators have also expressed severe misgivings about how the matter was dealt with by the court, including the decision to keep the content of the panel’s report confidential.

In ‘Clean chit to CJI Gogoi makes it clear Supreme Court judges believe they are above the law’, Alok Prasanna Kumar in Scroll critiques the “unfairness” and “opacity” of the procedures followed.

In the Hindustan Times, Supreme Court advocate Gautam Bhatia makes a case for why ‘Power imbalances and due processes don’t matter’ when the accused happens to be the CJI.

In the Quint, Vakasha Sachdev points out that the SC panel’s conclusions come as “no surprise”, given that committee head Justice Bobde is next in line to become CJI, “for which to happen he will need to be recommended by the very person he is investigating”.

In an in-depth interview with the Indian Express, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah has explained why he thinks “this episode is going to haunt the Supreme Court in the years to come”.

The Supreme Court’s citing of a 2003 order to keep the findings of the panel confidential has also come under question. Lawyer Indira Jaising has said that the 2003 order (in another case of sexual harassment against a judge) was “bad in law” and to use it to conceal the report’s contents was a “scandal”. In First Post, Shishir Tripathi notes how the complainant has little left in the way of legal recourse.

Meanwhile, most apex court judges are reportedly “rallying” around CJI Gogoi. The Bar Council of India has also voiced its support for the CJI and has said that there is “something fishy” about the complainant’s allegations.

Media in focus

In a press release on Sunday, the Supreme Court called an Indian Express report “wholly incorrect” for claiming that Justices Chandrachud and Nariman met Justice Bobde to express their reservations about the inquiry panel proceeding without the complainant present. While the Indian Express has said it “regrets the error”, the Wire read between the lines and explained how the reservations expressed by Chandrachud in a letter still stand.

Former Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dixit has been criticised for saying in an interview that the media blew the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case out of proportion. The Congress leader said, “Sometimes media ignore rape and put a small column in a newspaper… little children are being raped and one was put into a political scandal which we [the Congress party] suffered.”

Muzaffarpur shelter home

The CBI has said that as many as 11 girls were allegedly murdered by Brajesh Thakur and his accomplices in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where dozens of minors were sexually abused. The Supreme Court has asked the CBI to complete its probe into the killings and file a status report by June 3.

Gurgaon ‘aunty’

A viral video of a middle-aged woman saying that short skirts invite rape has ignited a debate in mainstream and social media. The woman had reportedly invited a group of men in a restaurant to rape young women dressed in short skirts; the targets of her wrath then followed her to another store and told her they would make her go “viral” unless she apologised. The video was uploaded and the woman’s identity revealed. Amid the ensuing outrage, she too was given rape threats and mocked for her appearance.

While several editorials have expectedly contested the “aunty’s” regressive mindset, others have made finer points about “the role of shame in feminist practice” and that “combating misogyny with misogyny is not feminism”.

#MeToo

Former journalist M J Akbar, who resigned from his ministerial post in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, appeared in court last week for his defamation case against one of his many accusers. When questioned about the details of his meeting with journalist Priya Ramani, when the alleged harassment took place, Akbar said he could not remember the details.

The Supreme Court will hear a plea filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar on the sexual harassment allegations against Rahul Johri,CEO of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). Johri had earlier been cleared of wrongdoing by an independent probe committee.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See a fuller list of rape and sexual violence cases reported today, and earlier this week.

Use our case filter to read reports on specific cases: #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, #RapeOfMinors, #Muzaffarapur, #PoliticsOfRape (use the dropdown menu in column A).

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A conversation on the news coverage of rape and sexual violence in India. A MAAR initiative

Asavari Singh

Written by

Editor and former journalist, with a special interest in gender in the media and psychology. Editorial contributor at newstracker.maar.in

NewsTracker

A conversation on the news coverage of rape and sexual violence in India. A MAAR initiative