Harassment Alert at Air India: Airlines received 8 sexual-harassment complaints in first half of 2019

Air India received eight sexual harassment complaints internally during the first half of this year as compared to the total 10 complaints in 2018, sources said.

On May 16 this year, Airline’s Chief Ashwani Lohani told the employees through a text message that sexual harassment cases are “often” being witnessed in Air India and the airline needs to come down “very very heavily” on such offenders.

The Chairman and Managing Director’s message came after the airline announced on May 15 that it has set up a high-level inquiry to probe a sexual harassment complaint filed by a woman pilot against a commander.

A source told, “During 2018, 10 complaints of sexual harassment have been filed at Air India. Between Jan 1 and July 1 of 2019, eight complaints of sexual harassment have been received.”

Another source said on Sunday that Air India has been dealing with each such complaint in the “strictest manner possible”.

In May this year, the aforementioned high-level inquiry was initiated after the woman pilot filed a complaint, which stated that the alleged incident took place on May 5 at Hyderabad where she was being trained by the commander.

The commander was told on May 20 by the national carrier that he needs written permission to enter the airline’s offices till an inquiry into the complaint is over.

In a letter to the accused, Air India Regional Director (northern region) Abhay Pathak said that “pending (an) inquiry… during the period of suspension, you will not enter the premises of Air India Limited without written permission”.

“You will not leave the station (Delhi) without written permission of the undersigned,” Pathak added.

Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment

Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment
Delhi HC forms temporary ICC in JNU to look into sexual harassment

The Delhi High Court today formed a temporary Internal Complaint Committee (TICC) in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to proceed with 31 pending complaints of sexual harassment.

The court’s direction came on a plea filed by a group of teachers and students of JNU opposing the office order disbanding the Gender Sensitisation Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) committee and replacing it by an ICC.

They also opposed a registrar’s circular putting on hold the election of students’ representatives to the dissolved body.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Pratibha Singh said the three-member TICC will consist of one member each of the present ICC and erstwhile GSCASH and the third member would be nominated by them from an NGO or an association committed to the cause of women.

While nominating the third member, a list of NGOs and associations, prepared by the GSCASH or JNU administration, would be taken into consideration, the bench said.

It added that the directions were passed to ensure there is no tampering of records and breach of confidentiality.

The bench listed the matter for February 22, next year for final hearing and disposal of the petition challenging the varsity administration’s decision on disbanding the GSCASH and forming the ICC instead.

During the hearing, advocate Ginny J Rautray, appearing for JNU, handed over to the bench the list of pending matters by suppressing the names of victims, accused and witnesses and said there are 31 pending complaints which were filed between January 5 last year to July 27 this year.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioner teachers and students, argued that the composition of ICC is in dispute and the complainants have confidence in GSCASH and not in ICC.

She claimed that the complainants have written to GSCASH members that they do not wish to pursue the complaints if this panel does not continue.

To this, the bench said the complainants do not have a choice in the matter and a complainant has the right to seek recusal of a member of the committee but with a valid reason.

It said these 31 cases should not be stalled as the issue relating to constitutional validity of the concerned UGC regulations is pending consideration.

The bench modified the stay order regarding the pending cases and formed the three-member temporary ICC to deal with these 31 matters.

It said that the records of these pending cases be made available to the temporary ICC and in case the two members of TICC do not reach any consensus in nominating the third member, they shall approach the court.

The court had earlier asked the JNU to maintain status quo on the sealing of the office of GSCASH committee which was superseded by the ICC.

The JNU administration had in its 269th Executive Council meeting held on September 18 ordered the dissolution of the independent body GSCASH.

As an interim relief, the petitioners had sought a stay on the operation of the order to disband GSCASH and a direction to JNU to preserve all records of GSCASH from 1999 till date in consultation with GSCASH.

The petition was filed by three teachers and three students Prof Madhu Sahni, Prof Rajat Dutta, Prof Hemant Adlakha, Ritika Kar, Rituraj Sharma and Sonam Goyal.

( Source – PTI )

All unwelcome physical contact not sexual harassment: Delhi HC

All unwelcome physical contact not sexual harassment: Delhi HC
All unwelcome physical contact not sexual harassment: Delhi HC

All unwelcome physical contact cannot be called sexual harassment unless it is in the nature of a sexually oriented behaviour, the Delhi High Court has said.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who made the observation, also said that even an accidental physical contact, though unwelcome, would not amount to sexual harassment.

“Similarly, a physical contact which has no undertone of a sexual nature and is not occasioned by the gender of the complainant may not necessarily amount to sexual harassment,” the court said.

The observations by the bench came during the hearing of an appeal by a CRRI scientist challenging the clean chit given by the complaints committee and disciplinary authority to her former senior colleague, whom she had accused of sexual harassment.

Both of them were working in the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) which is a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The allegation pertained to an incident of April 2005 when the man had entered the laboratory where the woman was working and had snatched samples from her hand, thrown the materials and pushed her out of the room.

The woman had contended that any unwelcome physical contact would amount to sexual harassment.

The Complaints Committee after examining her complaint had concluded that “it was a case of altercation in the background of the uncongenial environment prevailing in the division”.

Terming the man’s conduct as deplorable, it had also said that while there was evidence of physical contact by the man, “the same was not a sexually determined behaviour but was in the nature of an altercation”.

The disciplinary authority had accepted the committee’s report and passed an order in October 2009 giving clean chit to the man accused of sexual harassment.

Agreeing with the committee’s finding, the high court said, “Undoubtedly, physical contact or advances would constitute sexual harassment provided such physical contact is a part of the sexually determined behaviour. Such physical contact must be in the context of a behaviour which is sexually oriented.”

The court also rejected the woman’s challenge to the constitution of the committee and the disciplinary authority, saying that it finds no infirmity in their set up.

( Source – PTI )

‘Simple blow on child’s back is not sexual harassment’

'Simple blow on child's back is not sexual harassment'
‘Simple blow on child’s back is not sexual harassment’

A simple blow on a child’s back does not amount to sexual harassment under the POCSO law as there must be a sexual intent behind the act, a Delhi court has said.

It said that an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is made out when harassment is done with a sexual intent.

“Simply giving a blow on the back of the victim does not amount to sexual harassment as defined under the POCSO Act, according to which sexual harassment must be done with sexual intent. Then only the offence becomes punishable under the POCSO Act.

“Explanation of Section 11 of the Act says that any question which involving sexual intent shall be a question of fact,” Additional Sessions Judge A K Sarpal said.

The court’s observation came in a case in which a minor girl, student of class 10, had accused a man of sexually harassing her by spitting on her and misbehaving with her after giving a blow on her back with his hand.

The girl had alleged that the incident took place when she and her sister were going to school on a scooter in July 2015. She claimed that the accused came forward and threw garbage on the road and obstructed their way.

He then hit her with the garbage bucket and when she objected, he abused her, the girl alleged in her complaint.

The court, however, said the record pointed out that it was an “incident of simple quarrel which cannot be stretched to sexual harassment by any imagination”.

The court also noted that as per the charge sheet, the victim and her family members have instituted 14 similar kind of cases against the accused and other neighbours. Even her parents were facing four cases against them.

“In my opinion, simple vague and unspecific allegations made against the accused that he had misbehaved with the victim while giving a blow on her back itself, is not sufficient to invoke the provisions of POCSO Act against him.

“It was required by the prosecution to show that at the time of alleged quarrel, the accused has committed the offence of sexual harassment and that is also with a specific sexual intent,” the judge said.

The court said that even if the man gave a blow on the minor’s back during the quarrel, that act will not amount to showing any feeling or indicate sexual intent.

“Accordingly, after considering the charge sheet, I am of the opinion that no offence under the POCSO Act regarding commission of sexual harassment is made out,” the judge said.

The designated POCSO Act court transferred the matter to the court of chief metropolitan magistrate to decide whether any other offence was made out against the man.

( Source – PTI )

Can IIT withhold result: SC on student charged with sexual harassment

The Supreme Court has said it will examine whether an IIT can withhold the results of a final-year student, who was terminated after being held guilty in a sexual harassment case.

A bench of justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao issued notice to the Centre and IIT-Kanpur on the plea of the student, who challenged the Allahabad High Court order dismissing his plea.

Advocate Manu Shanker Mishra, appearing for the petitioner, said the results of the final semester should be given to the student as the delay is jeopardising his career.

The petitioner, before being terminated, was a final-year student of Department of Physics after being admitted to the institute in July 2012.

He was expelled from the institute in April 2016 after he was found guilty of sexually harassing a girl student.

The 23-year-old B.Sc Physics girl student had accused her senior of sexually harassing her for two years after which the college administration had forwarded the matter to the women’s cell. The cell found the accused guilty and he was expelled later.

He claimed that the women cell never gave the copy of the complaint made by the girl to him and did not even consider his reply.

“The charges levelled against the petitioner were absolutely vague and were incapable of being replied properly.

However, the petitioner gave replies to all the charges and he also tried to support his defence by introducing a large number of documents and a list of students who would appear as witnesses in the inquiry in support of his defence,” he said.

The student claimed that the findings of the Internal Complaint’s Committee were also not made available to him by the Women’s Cell.

He said that the report of the Women’s Cell together with the minutes of the meeting of the Senate Students’ Affairs Committee of March 30, 2016 were placed before the Academic Senate for its consideration on April 5, 2016 and were ratified and he was terminated.

“The Academic Senate did not give a copy of the report to the petitioner and it also did not give him any show-cause notice asking him to appear before the Senate for hearing.

“No opportunity of hearing of any kind whatsoever was afforded to the petitioner either by the Senate Students’ Affairs Committee or by the Academic Senate before the aforesaid decision of terminating the academic programme of the petitioner was taken by them,” he said.

The student claimed that his defence was not considered at all by the authorities at any stage of the proceedings and “there was sufficient material supplied by the petitioner so as to demonstrate that the complaint that was made against him by the female student was malicious”.

He said that single judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had ordered that the petitioner will submit a written unconditional apology before the institution and had directed the IIT to declare the petitioner’s result, if he has passed the examination.

IIT-Kanpur, however, challenged the order of the single- judge bench which the division bench on February 3, set aside.

Source : PTI

Delhi HC stays rustication of JNU student

Delhi HC stays rustication of JNU student
Delhi HC stays rustication of JNU student

The Delhi High Court has put on hold the rustication of a JNU student who had accused a hostel warden of sexual harassment, saying the university did not follow the prescribed procedure while taking the decision.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva stayed the May 30 decision of Jawaharlal Nehru University to rusticate the female student for one semester saying the varsity did not provide sufficient time to her to respond to the show cause notice and order appeared to have been passed without carrying out an inquiry.

The court also issued notice to the university and sought its response on the plea of the student, who was rusticated for one semester on the basis of a report of a Gender Sensitization Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) which had held that the girl had made a false complaint against the warden.

“Prima facie, I am satisfied that the respondent No.1 (JNU) has not complied with the provisions of the rules and procedures prescribed. The show-cause notice dated May 20, 2016 appears to have been served on the petitioner (student) on May 27 which did not provide sufficient time to her to respond to the said show-cause notice.

“Consequent to the show-cause notice, prima facie, there does not appear to have an inquiry conducted and the impugned order has been passed. In view of the above, issue notice.

Renotify on August 23. In the meantime, the order dated May 30 shall remain stayed,” the court said.

The student, in her plea, had contended that procedure as prescribed under the Rules and Procedures of the GSCASH has not been followed, as even the time required for filing an appeal was not provided to her since the show cause notice of May 20 was given to her on May 27.

She has also contended that even without awaiting her response, the rustication order was passed.

The student further alleged that even the report of the committee was not given to her.

The committee had carried out an enquiry pursuant to the girl lodging a complaint against the warden at Vasant Kunj police station on November 22, last year. A FIR was registered pursuant to her complaint.

The GSCASH had exonerated the warden and recommended the student’s rustication for defaming him.

( Source – PTI )

Delhi Police charge sheets Pachauri for sexual harassment

Delhi Police charge sheets Pachauri for sexual harassment
Delhi Police charge sheets Pachauri for sexual harassment

Delhi police has filed a charge sheet against RK Pachauri, founder of the non-profit think tank TERI in a sexual harassment case filed by his former colleague.

The police have accused Mr Pachauri of outraging modesty of woman, stalking and criminal intimidation, the Press Trust of India reported.

The charge sheet running into over 1,400 pages was filed in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan who has fixed it for consideration on April 23.

Police has arrayed 23 prosecution witnesses, many of whom are present and former employees of TERI.

In February last year, a 29-year-old research assistant working at TERI or The Energy Research Institute accused Mr Pachauri of sexual harassment following which a First Information Report was registered. Subsequently, the TERI Board announced Dr Ajay Mathur as the new Director General replacing Mr Pachauri.

Mr Pachauri who continues to be the TERI’s executive vice chairman has been sent on anindefinite leave by TERI.

Mr Pachauri has been accused of committing offences punishable under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354 A (sexual harassment), 354 D (stalking), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.

Dr Pachauri has denied the charges but a second woman last month has made similar allegations .

The woman in the status report has sought quashing of anticipatory bail of Mr Pachauri granted by the trial court in the case on March 21 last year.

Police has said that an out-of-court settlement was proposed to the woman.

( Source – PTI )

Court refuses to discharge man of sexual harassment

Court refuses to discharge man of sexual harassment
Court refuses to discharge man of sexual harassment

A court here has refused to discharge a man, accused of sexually harassing three working women by passing lewd comments, saying the statement of the complainant before police is a substantial piece of evidence. The court dismissed the revision petition of the accused, who had contended that the complainant had made different statements before the police and magistrate and that the magisterial court had erred in putting him on trial.

“As far as the evidentiary value of the statements under provisions of CrPC are concerned, they are at the same footing and of limited purpose as per sections of CrPC and Indian Evidence Act. “The statement of complainant before FIR is a substantial piece of evidence. So the evidentiary value of the statements of complainant is different and to be tested in trial.” Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Pandit said. The judge also noted that two other women, who were with the complainant, had also narrated the incident and “in these circumstances, all the statements are to be seen and tested at the time of trial.

A metropolitan magistrate had framed charge of sexual harassment under section 354A of the IPC against the accused who along with his friend had allegedly harassed the three women late at night in south Delhi here on November 10, 2013. According to the police, the women were returning home from work and when they got down from their cab at around 2.45 am, the accused and his friend passed lewd comments at them for being out on the street at that time.

( Source – PTI )

Pachauri permitted to travel to USA for last rites of relative

Pachauri permitted to travel to USA for last rites of relative
Pachauri permitted to travel to USA for last rites of relative

A Delhi court today allowed TERI Director General R K Pachauri, who is facing sexual harassment allegations from a woman employee, to travel to USA to attend last rites of his brother-in-law.

Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan, while allowing Pachauri to go abroad from June 29 to July 9, directed him to inform the Indian Embassy in the US about his arrival there and provide updates on his travel plans by filing the itinerary and photocopy of tickets and passport in the court.

The magistrate also directed Pachauri to inform the court and the Investigating Officer about his return to India on July 9.

The court also directed the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Director General not to visit any other country and to deposit two sureties of Rs two lakh each.

Advocate Ashish Dixit, appearing for Pachauri, said his client has been cooperating with the cops and had filed this plea only after two rounds of questioning was done by them.

As the police objected to his plea saying Pachauri was trying to evade further interrogation in the case, Dixit said there was no chance of him evading police investigation and he was seeking permission to travel abroad only because of his brother in-law’s death.

Dixit submitted documents regarding death of Pachauri’s brother-in-law.

The police also informed the court that Pachauri will be interrogated tomorrow also.

Meanwhile, victim’s counsel Prashant Mendirata opposed the plea claiming there was likelihood that he may misuse the liberty granted by the court by trying to escape to other countries.

Pachauri, who is on anticipatory bail since March 21, has been questioned twice by the police earlier this week in the sexual harassment case.

HC issues notice to govt on sexual harassment complaint

The Madras High Court today ordered issue of notice to the government on a complaint of sexual harassment filed by some teachers against a school headmaster here.

Justice M.M Sundresh, before whom the petition filed by seven Assistant lady teachers of Kolathur Government High School came up, directed the government pleader to get instructions from authorities and posted the matter for further hearing to December 22.

The petitioners alleged that the Headmaster, M K Beemkumar, behaves in a way that no woman can tolerate.
The teachers further alleged that the DEO, who enquired about the complaint, asked for evidence as to how they were subjected to sexual harassment.

Hence, they approached the court seeking a direction to authorities to take appropriate legal action against the headmaster under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibiti n and Redressal) Act 2013 based on their representation to educational authorities on October 24, this year.