India’s Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been cleared of sexual harassment allegations.
An inquiry panel ruled on Monday that there was “no substance” to the accusations, adding that its report would not be made public.
Mr Gogoi has previously called the allegations “false” and an attempt to “destabilise the judiciary”.
The ruling comes days after a woman who accused Mr Gogoi withdrew from the inquiry after questioning its fairness.
The woman, a former Supreme Court employee, alleged that two instances of misconduct took place in October – the month Mr Gogoi was sworn in as chief justice.
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.
Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising called the Monday’s ruling a “scandal” on Twitter and demanded the court release the report.
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 chief justice 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.
What has Mr Gogoi said?
The chief justice has denied the allegations.
A statement from the secretary general of the Supreme Court on the chief justice’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”.