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Sexual harassment case against India's top judge dismissed

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NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court panel on Monday dismissed a sexual harassment complaint made against India's top judge by a former staff member, saying it lacked substance.

A 35-year-old junior court assistant had last month accused Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi of making sexual advances towards her on two occasions at his official residence.

The woman claimed she lost her job and her family were harassed after she rebuffed Justice Gogoi's advances.

After the 64-year-old denied the allegations, a three-judge panel was set up to look into the woman's complaint.

"The in-house committee has found no substance in the allegations contained in the complaint dated April 19, 2019 of a former employee of the Supreme Court of India," the secretary-general of the Supreme Court said in a statement.

It also said the panel's report had been submitted to a senior judge as well as to the chief justice himself.

The contents of the report will not be made public in line with rules governing in-house inquiries, it added.

Last week, the woman said she was withdrawing from the inquiry as she was "not likely to get justice from this committee". In a letter, she said she found the "atmosphere of the committee very frightening".

She added that she felt "very nervous" as she was not allowed to be accompanied by her lawyer.

Justice Gogoi, who is due to retire in November after a year in the job, called the allegations "unbelievable" and an attempt to malign his reputation.

The case comes after a string of sexual harassment allegations were publicly made against Bollywood directors, actors and media figures last year, as the #metoo movement swept the country.

A junior foreign minister was forced to resign after several women accused him of harassment.

The Supreme Court, one of India's most respected institutions, has 25 judges appointed by the President, including the chief justice. - AFP