In what senior police officials are touting as an unprecedented move, a female Superintendent of Police has filed a complaint of sexual harassment against a male officer of the IG rank in Chennai. Following this, the state government has constituted an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) headed by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) and Director of the Tamil Nadu State Crime Records Bureau, Seema Agarwal, to probe the matter.
According to sources, the complaint was filed last week and it describes constant attempts by the male officer to sexually harass the complainant. The ICC has been constituted as per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Other members of the committee include Additional Director General of Police S Arunachalam, Deputy Inspector General of Police Thenmozhi, Superintendent of Police (retired) Saraswathi and Ramesh, an administrative officer in the DGP's office.
"Every department already has a committee, but this was reconstituted because the complainant is a senior officer, so the people inquiring also have to be senior," explains Seema Agarwal. "I came to know about the matter on Friday. We haven't received the complaint yet. Once we do, we will decide modus and begin inquiry," she adds.
According to the ICC Chairperson, the committee will look at evidence that both parties have to offer. "We will look at the evidence required to substantiate any allegations and then come to a conclusion based on this. The probe will be fair and we will not allow any external influences to affect our decision," she says.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act puts the onus on employers to ensure that the workplace is safe for all women. The act creates a mechanism for civil redressal of complaints, and also says that the employer must help the complaining file a police complaint if she so desires. The Act covers concepts of 'quid pro quo harassment' and 'hostile work environment' as forms of sexual harassment.