PUCL Bulletin, August 2001

Sexual and caste harassment of a dalit judge

Ms. Sushila Nagar, Civil Judge and Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, under suspension, in Rajasthan has become an example of how the judiciary at various levels in Rajasthan has itself been ignoring different laws, judgments of the Supreme Court, and recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission. Her case has been taken up by various organisations. Representations have been made to the National Commission for Women, Rajasthan High Court, etc. Ten organisations have sent a representation to President K R Narayanan, the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, the Chairperson SC/ST Commission, the Chairperson of National Women's Commission, the Law Minister, Government of India, the Law Minister Government of Rajasthan, the Chairperson Rajasthan Women's Commission.

We reproduce below the representation sent by these organisations detailing the continuous sexual harassment by judicial officers since 1992 when she joined the judiciary - General Secretary

Hon'ble Sir, We have to submit as under:

  1. That we are a group of organisations and public-spirited citizens working for the uplift of women and other deprived sections of society.

  2. That it was a matter of pride that for the first time a woman belonging to a schedule caste was selected in Rajasthan Judicial Service in 1992. Later she also got promotion to the post of Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate.

  3. That we were surprised and shocked when on 1st May, 2001 the issue of continuous persecution of this woman judicial officer was vehemently raised by 18 MLAs in the Rajasthan State Assembly The members were so agitated that the proceedings of the Assembly came to a standstill for over half an hour. The episode has been widely published in the local and national newspapers tarnishing the image of the Rajasthan Judiciary

  4. That, as has been alleged, the judicial officer Mrs. Sushila Nagar had been subjected to mental torture and humiliation at the hands of upper caste male officers in the Judiciary. Strangely the Hon'ble High Court, which was supposed to see the things in an impartial manner, has also come with heavy hands against Mrs. Sushila Nagar instead.

  5. That when we enquired about that matter, we came to know about the following facts:

    (a) Mrs. Sushila Nagar was selected on the basis of merit in the judicial service of the State of Rajasthan in 1992. To date she is the only woman judicial officer belonging to Scheduled Caste in judiciary of the State of Rajasthan. That this fact should have been a matter of pride, particularly in this period of women's empowerment, but on the contrary a consistent attempt has been made to browbeat her and make baseless and unfounded allegations against her.

    (b) That though Smt. Sushila Nagar has been facing mental torture silently and trying to convince the authorities about the real facts it seems that a deep-rooted prejudice exists there also and all her pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

    (c) That the history of torture started as early as the year 1992-93 when Smt. Sushila Nagar was on her first posting as Judicial Magistrate No.3, Ajmer. One Shri Uma Shankar Vyas was also posted as Judicial Magistrate No.3, Ajmer. He misbehaved with her and the matter was reported to the then District Judge, Ajmer Shri DC Dalela (as His Lordship then was). The incident was found to be correct and Shri Uma Shankar Vyas was forced to submit a written apology. The said Shri Uma Shankar Vyas was the nephew of Shri K L Vyas who was also a District Judge. Shri K L Vyas thereupon developed a strong malice towards her. On 03/07/1998, while he was working as District Judge, Ajmer, Shri KL. Vyas came to Beawar, called some Advocates at the Dak Banglow, and asked them to make complaints about Sushila Nagar's personal character. She immediately brought this fact to the notice of the Hon'ble Justice Ms. Gyan Sudha Mishra of Raj High Court and also to other Judges and other Senior Officers, orally.

    (d) That on 03/12/1998 Hon'ble Acting Chief Justice visited Beawar. He granted her a patient hearing. She narrated all the above facts and apprised him of the vindictive attitude of Shri K.L. Vyasm, Hon'ble Chief Justice himself was convinced of the real situation and had very kindly assured her that nothing would be done which was prejudicial to her career However, close to his retirement Justice KL Vyas persuaded members of the Beawar Bar to make a complaint against her. The members of the Beawar Bar sent a written complaint against her to the Hon'ble High Court on 19/12/1998.

    (e) Justice K.L. Vyas then himself made a complaint against her to the Registrar General Rajasthan High Court on 31/8/1998. The malice is self-evident in this letter. She submitted a reply in detail on 06/01/1999.

    (f) That as a settled practice the letters by any District Judge to the Hon'ble High Court are addressed only to the Registrar General but Shri K.L. Vyas was so desperate that he wrote many letters to Registrar (Vigilance). These letters were treated as complaints. Even a copy of the report of inspection of her court made by Shri K.L. Vyas was also sent to the Registrar (Vigilance) and strangely it was also treated as a complaint.

    (g) That she was harassed in more than one way and complaints were invented against her is self-evident. The nature of harassment was as follows:
    Complaints of not sitting in courts in proper uniform. Inspection reports were sent directly to the Registrar (Vigilance) without first asking for their compliance. Her casual leave applications were objected to and explanations were called for almost all such applications. Confidential inquiries were made to see whether she remained present at headquarters on holidays and during that period her request for leaving headquarters were refused .

    (h) That women officers can be treated with such insensitivity is highlighted through what she was subjected to when she was posted at Beawar. Sushila Nagar then was unmarried and was living alone. Three other male judicial officers were living with their families but only she was chosen for protocol duties for which she had to work during nights also, and even during Diwali holidays from 27/9/1998 to 30/09/1998 she was not allowed to leave headquarters. A false complaint was made against her about misusing the telephone she was entitled to. Though the Addl. District Judge, Beawar who enquired into the matter under instructions from Shri K. L. Vyas, did not find the allegation true, still, Shri Vyas forwarded the same complaint to the Registrar (Vigilance). He also managed a complaint from the Employees Union against her and this time after making inquiries himself, he sent his report to the Registrar (Vigilance) in order to stall her promotion which was due to be considered before Full Court in April, 1999. This was two days prior to the retirement of Shri K.L. Vyas. In these circumstances, she had to make a request to the Hon'ble High Court to change her reporting officer for the year 1998.

    (i) That if a close study is made of her service career, this fact will automatically come to light that except this period from 07/08/97 to 29/02/1999 when Shri K.L. Vyas was District Judge, Ajmer, there had been no complaint against her, there was no charge-sheet and also no adverse report against her She had occasion to work under several other District Judges and all of them found her to be a good officer. Her integrity was always found satisfactory.

    (j) That though Shri K L Vyas retired from service, and unfortunately has since expired, it seems that the efforts made by him to lay the foundation to dislodge her had not gone in vain. That Shri K.L. Vyas was able to ingrain a deep-rooted prejudice against her is evident Every now and then Memos have been issued against her and there was no one to hear and understand her side of the story. There is an incident that exemplifies this. In 1994, she was interviewed by Doordarshan and UNICEF for being the only woman Judicial Officer belonging to the scheduled caste. This was not tolerated by high caste officers. A Notice was issued to the Doordarshan by a high caste officer and she was personally humiliated. Similarly in 1997, when she was posted at Beawar, a house was allotted to her. That accommodation was not vacated by Shri Kailash Singhal, the then Addl. District Judge, and she was compelled to occupy another house. Strangely still, she was the only one who was chargesheeted for this. An inquiry was made by Hon'ble Justice Mr. B.S. Chouhan and though he found that it was the fault of Shri Kailash Singhal and Shri K. L Vyas, no action was taken against them

    (k) That when during the period when she was on leave, the Reader of her Court Mahendra Prasad Joshi was caught taking bribe. Still no action was taken against that Reader but a false report was sent against her. Again when she was posted at Bhim, the clerk of her court, Arvind Choudhary (Jain), took a bribe of Rs. 2600/- to release a truck by forging a court order in her absence. This fact has come on record and even the truck owner has given his affidavit to this effect. Still no action has been taken against the clerk and instead she was asked to remain awaiting posting orders.

    (l) That when she was hospitalized because of an abortion on 21/01/2000 and entitled to avail 42 days of leave according to Rules, the Hon'ble Inquiring Authority instructed that she could rest only for 15 days.

    (m) That on the 14th and 15th of April 2001 when she and her husband were staying at Ajmer Circuit House, the Registrar (Vigilance) also stayed there. Relatives of a very senior Judicial Officer also came and stayed there. However, rooms were booked for them in the name of other Judicial Officers. She pointed out the irregularity to the Registrar (Vigilance) not quite knowing the consequences, which have now come to the fore as retaliation against her.

    (n) That she got married in April 2000 to another judicial officer. Since then she has been requesting that the policy of keeping husband and wife judicial officers at one place be followed in her case also. Still they are the only couple who remained deprived of this benefit while all other eight or nine such couples are posted at the same place. To add insult to injury, even her headquarters during suspension period has been kept at Rajsamand instead of either at Jaipur or Kishangarh Bas, where her husband was posted as Additional District Judge. What is the rationale behind keeping her headquarters at Rajsamand, is beyond comprehension

    (o) That the last chargesheet was given on 20/2/2001. The record has not been made available to her for inspection yet, though she has already submitted detailed explanations, even before issuing of the chargesheet to each and every point and though after that no new development took place. Still suddenly on 20/4/2001 a suspension order has been issued. This has crossed all limits of harassment. She expected that when tall claims are being made for empowerment of women and uplift of their conditions, she was at least entitled to a patient hearing and sympathetic consideration. On the contrary, in reality the attitude against her is extremely vindictive, so much so that she has been forced to submit her resignation from service.

  6. That we are also enclosing copies of the news reports about the incident, which will speak for them.

We request you to intervene in the matter and see that justice is done so that the faith of the people in the Judiciary may not be eroded completely We will be highly obliged for the same. -- Sd. (by representatives of ten organisations)

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