The Supreme Court has pulled up the Telangana government for being insensitive to the plea of the mother of a woman finance officer in Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) who allegedly died by suicide due to repeated sexual harassment at her workplace. On Friday, as the Telangana government counsel sought a four-week adjournment, a bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and S Ravindra Bhat said: "We deprecate the request made by the counsel for the state of Telangana for an adjournment in this case and that too for a period of four weeks."
The bench observed that to avoid embarrassment to the state, it would refrain from recording the reasons mentioned across the Bar for that adjournment. "The reasons stated indicates the insensitivity with which the investigation is progressing in this case. We say no more for the time being," said the bench.
The top court also directed the Home Secretary of the state government to personally look into this aspect and issue appropriate directions to ensure compliance with its direction. "Registry is directed to forward a copy of this order to the Home Secretary, State of Telangana for immediate compliance through email/on-line," noted the bench. The top court has posted the matter for further hearing in the week commencing from December 14.
The plea was filed by the mother of the 33-year-old victim through advocate Alok Srivastava. Srivastava had argued that the victim was a bright, young and intelligent finance professional, who joined BHEL in July 2009 and served till her death on October 17, 2019, with utmost dedication. "There was not even an iota of complaint against her work or against her mental behaviour during her long association with BHEL. However, she was sexually harassed, molested, stalked, mentally tortured and attempted to be raped by her own supervisor and by her own office colleagues at BHEL, Hyderabad, which forced her to ultimately die by suicide," said the plea.
The petitioner claimed that a note dated October 16, 2019 of the deceased and her last telephonic conversation (on the same day) with her sister, categorically establish that her own supervisor and office colleagues subjected her to extreme level of sexual, physical and mental harassment and attempted to rape her, which led to her death.
The plea contended that the main accused is a native of Telangana, whereas the deceased belonged to Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh). "Hence, there is a strong apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that the Telangana police have a strong linguistic and regional bias in favour of the accused and against the deceased," said the plea.
If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers.
State health department suicide helpline number - 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in TN
Life Suicide Prevention Helpline No.78930-78930
Roshni Helpline 1: 9166202000 Helpline 2: 9127848584
Sahai : 24-hour helpline numbers: 080- 65000111, 080-65000222
Maithri helpline - 0484-2540530
Chaithram helpline: 0484-2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
Telangana government suicide prevention toll free no - 104
Roshni- 040-66202000, 6620200SEVA- 09441778290, 040 - 27504682 (between 9 AM and 7 PM)