May 08, 2021
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Sexual Harassment

'We Really Respected Him'

Another intern corroborates parts of the sexual harassment charges against the former Supreme Court judge

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'We Really Respected Him'

Website Legally India reported on November 14, that sexual harassment charges against a former Supreme Court judge by an intern had been partially corroborated by another intern [the Second Intern] to the same judge, on Facebook on the evening of Monday, November 11, 2013, under her own name, as a comment in an online discussion surrounding a public note by NUJS Kolkata professor Shamnad Basheer. 

These comments have since been deleted from the comment thread on Facebook, in order to protect her identity and privacy, but are reproduced here after deleting the names:

The funny part is, it was very likely that i would have been the person in [First Intern]’s place. I’ve been at the receiving end of unsolicited sexual advance more than once , and so has she [FI]. And we kept attributing all the signs of leeriness to our hypersensitivity to such situations, mistrusting our instincts. We discussed innocuously said off colour remarks and dismissed their creepiness because we really respected him [the judge], and the possibility seemed at odds with everything we knew about him, his ideas about feminism, patriarchy, social justice...

If only the world was so uncomplicated that you could tell the bad guys from the good guys with a glance. If we weren’t women in a man’s world, we wouldn't need to explain why we didn’t do what the women in Anurag Kashyap’s short film did. You can’t go around beating up your uncles and cousins without risking your family's wellbeing. There’s something at stake which is perhaps important to the people who you care about, even if it isn’t important to you. Like your own life.

In any case, violence is such an easy reaction. And how has that solved the world’s problems, pray? Of course, Mr. Justice lost his RA’s [research assistants], he also got a good talking to, a brushing down that his father should have given him, which he received from a 23 year old girl... And maybe, maybe that is a better route? Not necessarily violent, but not voiceless. Being lawyers, we understand not only the value of being litigious, but also when litigiousness is a handicap, when better results might be achieved without invoking law’s violence to one’s aid, when negotiations and personal confrontations might be better, and when informal means are more useful to achieve the ends we seek.

In this case, we spoke to other women who had worked with him and found out that there was a history to such behaviour. (Perhaps it's a psychological problem, who knows? Some neediness issues.) We also alerted some female senior faculty to the incident so that they would ensure that no female student was assigned work with him without being told to be on her guard.

Why deprive girls from the chance to work with an illustrious mind because the mind is a little sick? A guy who gets the task would get a savvy CV and a better job opp. We didn't want girls to be left at a disadvantage.

After all, maybe his fear of our possible relash could have disciplined him into better behaviour.

He promised, incidentally, that he would never misbehave with another lady. Maybe it's naiveté to believe him. Maybe it’s just youthful optimism. Being brave is tougher than it appears on the face of it, no? [FI] has oodles of courage.

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