Four Retired Judges Will Hold Public Hearings on #MeToo Allegations: WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi
File image of Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi | (Photo Credit: PTI)

New Delhi, October 12: Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, on Friday announced that her Ministry would be forming a legal panel to probe the sexual harassment allegations made by women under the #MeToo campaign.

Maneka said a team of four retired judges will hold public hearings on #MeToo cases, news agency PTI reported. On being asked whether she doubts the credibility of certain allegations being raked on the social media, the BJP veteran said she personally "believes in all of them". Smriti Irani Reacts to #MeToo Allegations Against MJ Akbar.

The announcement of a probe into the #MeToo allegations comes in the backdrop of charges levelled against Menaka's ministerial colleague MJ Akbar, who is the Union Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.

At least six women -- who were once subordinates of Akbar in a leading English national daily -- have accused him of sexually harassing them when he was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

Earlier on October 9, while reacting to the harassment charges levelled against Akbar, Maneka said a probe should "definitely be conducted". All About SHe-Box, Government of India's Online Platform For Complaints of Sexual Harassment at Workplace.

The Minister had further commented that it is "completely genuine" for a woman to narrate her ordeal 10-15 years after she went through it. "You will always remember the person who did it, which is why we have written to the Law Ministry that complaints should be without any time limit," she had said.

Notably, the #MeToo movement was sparked in India nearly a fortnight ago when actor Tanushree Dutta accused veteran film personality Nana Patekar of harassing her on the sets of a film nearly 10 years ago.

The victims can register their complaints under SHe-Box (shebox.nic.in), an online government platform where victims of sexual harassment and assault can file cases online. The initiative was launched by the WCD Ministry in 2017 with the intent to effectively implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (the SH Act), 2013.