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HC rejects ex-RAW officer’s plea against CJI appointment

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The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to interfere with the appointment of Justice HL Dattu as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI), on a plea filed by an advocate and former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) woman officer who alleged sexual harassment by him.

A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog dismissed the plea of Nisha Priya Bhatia, who sought the recommendation of the government to the President to appoint Justice Dattu as the next CJI be quashed.

“Once the presidential approval is there, we can’t do anything. It’s not a matter of interference,” said the bench.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the central government, opposed Bhatia’s plea to quash the recommendation, saying the President has approved the appointment of Justice Dattu as the next CJI on September 5.

The ASG also argued that the petition is frivolous and should not be entertained.

Alleging sexual harassment, the 51-year-old Bhatia in her plea has said: “Quash recommendations reported to have been made by government – as council of ministers – to the President to appoint Justice HL Dattu as the Chief Justice of India.”

Bhatia in her plea has alleged that she was a law student in 2011 when Justice Dattu began hearing all her court cases in the Supreme Court, her work place.

“He (Dattu) has since then contributed to her acute and intense sexual harassment even though – under the Vishakha guidelines of the apex court itself – he was obliged to protect her against it, even from the third party,” the plea said.

The plea said Justice Dattu dismissed all her cases and she had also filed complaints against him with police, the National Commission for Women and the Delhi Commission for Women.

Bhatia, a 1987 batch Class 1 executive cadre officer in the RAW, was compulsorily retired from the service in 2009.

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