Melbourne, March 6: Melbourne magistrate Raj Malhotra has been stood down while a specially selected panel is probing serious sexual assault allegations levelled against him, the Age reported.
In its report, the Age stated that Mr Malhotra is being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a junior colleague at a work Christmas party and inciting violence against a male staff member.
Mr Malhotra’s appointment was prioritised to the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in March, last year by Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula; by dint of Mr Malhotra’s experience in prosecutions.
It is understood that Mr Pakula and the chief magistrate Peter Lauritsen have each referred a magistrate to the Judicial Commission of Victoria around December 2017 and January 2018, respectively.
The Judicial Commission is an independent body set up in July 2017, to investigate complaints about judicial officers.
This matter apparently, is the first referral by Mr Pakula to the Commission.
Judge Lauritsen confirmed on Monday that a magistrate had been stood down pending the outcome of an investigation.
The Magistrates Court however, refused to confirm the identity of the magistrate.
The Judicial Commission of Victoria, in a statement later on Monday, stated that it had decided to refer allegations to an investigating panel, which included two senior retired judges and a non-legal person of high standing in the community.
The panel was selected from a pool of people appointed by the Governor in Council.
This move by Judicial Commission reportedly came about after Mr Malhotra was moved between two suburban courts, allowing him to continue as a magistrate after the serious allegations came to light.
The Age clarified that its report was not suggesting that Mr Malhotra who had been stood down, is guilty – other than confirming that sexual allegations made against him were being investigated.
Mr Malhotra before being installed as a magistrate, has had an extensive prosecutorial experience.
He worked at the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions in Western Australia before being the Senior Prosecutor at the Environment Agency in the UK.
He then went on to work as Manager of Prosecutions and Investigations at the Department of Transport in Victoria.
He has also been a member of the Adult Parole Board since 2013 and previously worked as General Counsel and as a Director of Regulatory Services for the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
Raj Malhotra completed his law degree at the University of Western Australia and started practicing in 1997.