Just weeks after shocking allegations of sexual harassment against TVF founder Arunabh Kumar, ScoopWhoop co-founder Suparn Pandey also faces similar allegations.
The FIR in question, filed in Vasant Kunj (south), New Delhi by a former employee ScoopWhoop Media Pvt Ltd, alleges that Pandey sexually harassed the employee between 2015 and 2017.
Ranjan Crasta of Catchnews, who accessed the FIR, also reported that charges of abetting the harassment have been filed against Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar, the other co-founders of the media house.
Sections 354 A (sexual harassment), 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC, have reportedly been named in the FIR, which was filed on March 28.
According to the Catchnews report, the complainant has alleged that Pandey harassed her for almost the entire time she worked there. He allegedly began with verbally harassing her, often making â€śinappropriate comments and lewd remarksâ€ť. He also allegedly taunted the complainant in public using terms relating to her sexual orientation.
The complainant stated that she had tried to address the matter internally and had taken it up with Tikekar. The latter assured her that such instances would not be repeated, but no action was taken against Pandey.
The complainant also tried avoiding Pandey altogether. However, she alleged, he would often try to get close to her and play with her hair. He even sent her an explicit video on the official Gmail chat, with the words â€śaapnu jeans dheeli karoâ€ť (loosen your jeans), the complainant reportedly stated in the FIR.
Reportedly, the company not only failed to take any action against Pandey, but also allowed him to come to work in a drunken state, where he would â€śrepeatedly attempt to touch herâ€ť. The complainant has also alleged that Mishra and Tikekar started ganging up on her after a point, and publicly humiliated her.
The final blow, the report says, came after one incident that left the complainant feeling â€śdisgustedâ€ť and â€śphysically violatedâ€ť.
On this occasion, Pandey approached the complainant when she was alone at her desk after a meeting between 8 and 9.30pm one evening. The complainant alleges that Pandey asked her to be less â€śaggressiveâ€ť in her interactions with others and â€śpour some sugar on itâ€ť. Then he kissed her on the head and left.
The complainant attempted to take up the matter with Mishra and Pandey again. But despite her reservations, she was made to work with Pandey and was allegedly humiliated publicly when she refused. She has also alleged that she was dissuaded from filing a formal complaint by the co-founders who threatened to defame her and ruin her career. As a result, the complainant resigned from her job.
Catchnews reported that Pandey refused to comment on the issue, and said that he wanted â€śno visibilityâ€ť at this time.
The Delhi police have issued a notice to Pandey, who has reportedly moved for anticipatory bail. Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kapoor has given the Delhi police five days to give a reply on the matter. Senior officers have said that they will oppose Pandeyâ€™s anticipatory bail plea.
TNM contacted a police officer involved in the investigation, who confirmed that an FIR has been filed under sections of the IPC mentioned above. However, the officer refused to confirm if Mishra and Tikekar have also been named in the FIR.
ScoopWhoop responded to the allegations on Wednesday evening saying that it "condemns any kind of harassment at the workplace" and that it works towards "a safe and secure workplace" for employees where complaints of harassment are taken "extremely seriuosly".
Read the rest of the statement here:
"In line with workplace laws, ScoopWhoop has an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The ICC constitutes of two of our most senior and experienced women employees and an independent observer who has served on ICC panels across various prestigious and international companies.
40 percent of our workforce is women and we have equal representation in senior leadership positions. We have taken every step to ensure the complainant gets a fair hearing and are following the rule book on workplace harassment.
The complaint was forwarded to the ICC immediately on receipt and the same is being inquired as per law. The company is adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the Hon. Supreme Court of India and the law of the land against sexual harassment at workplace and the investigation is ongoing.
As an FIR has also been filed separately by the complainant, and the police investigation is ongoing, we are extending full cooperation to the police to conduct a full and fair investigation into the matter.
We are fully prepared to accept the findings of the investigations and dutifully take the necessary action if found guilty."