In Pics: High-profile sexual harassment cases at workplace

Crime against women refuses to die down in India. Everyday, cases related to molestation, harassment and sexual assault or abuse are reported and many cases even go unreported.

Sexual harassment at workplace has also become common. In the recent past, there have been numerous cases related to sexual harassment of women employees by their seniors, in the corporate sector as wells as in the government jobs.

According to Dr Ranjana Kumari, the Director, at the Centre for Social Research (CSR), "Sexual harassment is the single most under-reported crime in most societies. Sexual harassment at workplace typically ranges from mildly distasteful sexist comments and jokes, pornographic pin-up posters, provocative electronic mail and X-rated computer software all the way to outright assault and rape in extreme cases."

[When powerful women become victims of sexual harassment]

In March this year, the Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked various chambers of commerce and industry to ensure constitution of Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) to deal with sexual harassment cases.

[Woman IAS Officer reveals sexual harassment ordeal; Court's insensitive behaviour shocks her]

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 provides for the constitution of an internal complaint committee by any establishment which has 10 or more employees.

Let us recall some of the most high-profile and shocking sexual harassment cases, that garnered huge media attention:

Tarun Tejpal- Tehelka

Tehelka magazine founder Tarun Tejpal, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman employee in Goa in Nov 2013.

He was charged under sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 341 and 342 (wrongful restrain), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) and 376 (2)(k)(takes advantage of his official position and commits rape in his custody).

After a nationwide chase, 50-year-old Tejpal was arrested on Nov 30 and was lodged in Sada sub jail in Vasco.

A junior colleague had accused Tejpal of alleged rape during ThinkFest, a high profile conference organised by Tehelka founder in Goa which was attended by Hollywood star Robert de Niro.

The victim had claimed that she was sexually assaulted twice Nov 7 and 8.


RK Pachauri- TERI

Nobel Laureate and former environment minister RK Pacahuri's involvement into a sexual harassment is one of the most shocking cases.

On May 29,2015, an internal probe by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) found that its Director General, RK Pachauri was guilty in the sexual harassment case filed against him by a woman colleague.

TERI committee also recommended disciplinary action against Pachauri.

The committee found that Pachauri's repeated attempts to build a personal relationship with the woman had amounted to 'sexual harassment.'

The report filed by the committee stated that Pachauri 'took away work from her after she resisted his advances.' The complainant had told Delhi High Court that "Pachauri was trying to influence witnesses".


Retired Judge AK Ganguly

66-year-old former judge AK Ganguly was accused of sexually harassing a former intern.

Last year in January 2014, the Supreme Court also dismissed a plea seeking to quash the complaint of sexual harassment against the retired judge Ganguly.

With intense political pressure, Ganguly had to eventually step down as the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.

However, Ganguly had denied the allegations, and challenged the committee's findings in a letter to the then Chief Justice of India, P Sathasivam.



In June 2015, Environment rights NGO Greenpeace India came in trouble, as an ex-staffer went public with allegations of rape and sexual harassment by her colleagues.

The complainant alleged that she had to leave her job in 2013 after being sexually harassed and raped by her colleagues.

Narrating her ordeal, she said that it started a year after she had joined the NGO at their Bengaluru office. The first incident happened during an official trip in October 2012.

"I got a call from a senior colleague at 11 pm, asking me to vacate my room and insisting that I sleep in his suite. In another incident, he approached me physically despite my discomfort, insisted on force-feeding me birthday cake,' she told a news agency.

Though she registered a written complaint with the HR manager, she did not receive any verbal or written communication from the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the organisation, which looks into sexual harassment cases.

To her shock, she learnt that the person was a serial offender and no action had been taken against him despite his misbehaviour with two other female employees.

However, she said, she was blamed for registering the complaint. "Once in an official meeting, in my absence, two senior employees indulged in character assassination against me. Even some female colleagues, part of the ICC, made me feel that I was at fault, that I didn't know how to 'set boundaries'," she said.

However, matters came to a head in 2013. "It was after a party, when a male colleague whom I knew quite well found me unconscious and raped me. You cannot imagine the pain and fear I went through. I was terrified to speak and I knew even if I had, no one in this organisation would come to my aid. I did not have the strength to report my rape, neither to the police, nor to my employers. How could I, when the processes had failed me once already?" she asked.

Traumatised, she left the NGO after a few months. She said it took her long to overcome the incident, and finally, she decided to tell her story through a Facebook post in February this year.

Immediately after her post, Greenpeace issued an apology on their website and promised her to re-investigate the case in an adequate manner.


Assistant Director General of AIR

In March 2015, a production assistant in Doordarshan had alleged that the Assistant Director General of the channel was harassing her sexually for over a year.

He was accused of making physical advances, subjecting her to obscene comments and calling her to his chambers at odd hours. The complainant also alleged that a hostile environment was created for her instead.

Ironically, herself is a part of the organization's inhouse sexual harassment committee. However, instead of helping her out, she was transferred from DD's Mandi House to the Central Production Centre (CPC) office in Hauz Khas.

While the DG did not respond to calls, the ADG said that the charges were fabricated.

He had said, "This is a malicious attempt to malign my reputation and that of my family. The complainant was upset because we did not recommend a documentary she had contributed to (on the Muzaffarnagar riots) for the national film awards."

She complained to the internal complaints committee and was given a fair hearing.


Madhya Pradesh High Court case

The shocking case was reported on Aug 4, 2014, when a woman additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior had to resign after she was allegedly sexually harassed by the sitting Madhya Pradesh High Court judge.

In March this year, 58 MPs of Rajya Sabha had given a notice for impeaching Justice S K Gangele of Madhya Pradesh High Court, who was facing allegations of sexual harassment by the female judge.

The issue had hogged media headlines after the lady judge resigned on July 15 last year days after she was transferred to a remote district.

A year after the case was reported, MP HC judge S K Gangele got a clean chit in the sexual harassment case filed by an additional sessions judge.

In July 2015, the in-house committee submitted its report to the CJI, concluding that the sexual harassment charges were not proved against Justice Gangele and the case was closed, due to the lack of satisfactory explanations and evidence.


St Stephen College case

In June 2015, an FIR was registered against Satish Kumar, an assistant professor in St Stephen's chemistry department, after a PhD student filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment by him.

The student, who is doing her PhD under Kumar's supervision, has also alleged that college principal Valson Thampu tried to protect him when the matter was reported to the college authorities.

The girl has also claimed in her complaint that when her parents tried to approach the accused before the matter was reported to college authorities, "he had profusely apologised to them and assured of not repeating the act in future."

Thampu confirmed that the victim had raised the complaint with him but denied allegations of trying to protect Kumar.

On June 21, the research scholar had withdrawn her complaint from the ICC, claiming that she has lost faith in the committee's proceedings.


[Vishaka guidelines: Points to note]

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