The Tamil Nadu government has suspended a Deputy Superintendent of Police for sexually harassing a subordinate female officer in 2015. S Venakatraman, who was the DSP of the land grabbing division in Nagapattinam, was suspended on Wednesday, when he was supposed to superannuate from service.
The sexual harassment complaint against the police officer was filed when he was the Assistant Commissioner of Police, intelligence unit in Trichy. He was accused by the husband of woman sub-inspector, of making sexual advances to his wife. Following the complaint, he was transferred out of Trichy and made a DSP at Kolachal in Kanyakumari. The charges were confirmed by the Superintendent of Police, Perambalur Disha Mittal IPS, who formally probed the complaint.
Following the report submitted by Disha Mittal, Tamil Nadu Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi issued orders suspending Venkatraman from service.
A police source who is aware of the investigation process tells TNM that there was strong evidence against Venkatraman.
"The victim had an audio recording where the senior officer was making sexual innuendos. It was very obvious that he expected services of the sexual nature from her," says the police source. "This alone was enough to take action. The delinquent officer did not have a convincing defense to offer," adds the officer.
The case had, however, taken four years for the police department to complete. Explaining the delay, the police source says that it was a bureaucratic delay. The initial inquiries were conducted by a senior woman officer in Trichy, but no action was taken immediately on her report. It was after she retired that the matter was transferred at the end of 2017 to SP Disha Mittal.
"Following this the victim's husband was not cooperative with the inquiry committee. It was finally the victim herself who gathered strength to give a strong statement and evidence against the delinquent officer," says the police officer who is aware of the inquiry proceedings. The final report was submitted to the government in April 2019.
"Many victims of sexual harassment are currently scared to speak up because of stigma and fear of repercussions if they complain against a senior officer," says the officer. "Justice meted out in this case will definitely inspire more women in the police department to speak up against harassment."