Protests after Indias top judge cleared

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Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court

Indian police briefly detained more than 50 women protesting at the Supreme Court, a day after the chief justice was cleared of sexual harassment.

The activists had gathered outside the court in the capital Delhi to demand a fair inquiry into the allegations.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has called the allegations “false” and an attempt to “destabilise the judiciary”.

His accuser, a former court employee, withdrew from the inquiry after questioning its fairness.

Protesters want a new inquiry to be held, and for the report exonerating him to be made public.

“We were not allowed to protest even for five minutes!,” lawyer Amritananda Chakravorty tweeted.

“First the [Supreme Court] allows a farce process and then can’t even accept any criticism!”

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Ranjan Gogoi was sworn in as India’s top judge in October

What were the allegations?

Mr Gogoi’s accuser, a married woman, cannot be named under Indian law.

She alleged that on 10 and 11 October – the month he was sworn in as chief justice – Mr Gogoi pressed his body against her in his offices, “hugged me around the waist, and touched me all over my body with his arms” until she physically pushed him away.

She said Mr Gogoi told her her family “would be greatly disturbed” if she told anyone what happened. The woman said her family was victimised after she refused his advances and that she was transferred three times before being fired in December.

After she filed an affidavit on 19 April detailing the alleged harassment, the Supreme Court set up an “in-house committee” with three judges, including two women, to look into the allegations.

An inquiry panel ruled on Monday that there was “no substance” to the accusations, adding that its report would not be made public.

Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising called Monday’s ruling a “scandal” and demanded the court release the report.

What has Mr Gogoi said?

The chief justice has denied the allegations.

A statement from the secretary general of the Supreme Court on the judge’s behalf said his accuser had “had no occasion to interact directly with the chief justice”.

The statement said she was dismissed “as per procedure” after an incident of “inappropriate conduct”.

“I don’t want to stoop so low as to answer these charges,” Mr Gogoi later told a special bench of the Supreme Court, claiming that there were “bigger forces behind these allegations hurled at me” which were “trying to destabilise the judiciary”.

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