The woman police officer had approached the court seeking transfer of Murugan IPS, against whom she had filed a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual harassment of woman SP Madras HC issues notice to DVAC Director Wikimedia Commons
news Sexual Harassment Friday, September 07, 2018 - 13:33

The Madras High Court has issued a notice to the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Director on the petition filed by a woman superintendent accusing a senior colleague of sexual harassment.   

The DVAC director has been asked to respond to the demand made by the woman SP seeking the transfer of Murugan IPS, the Joint Director of Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, against whom she had filed the complaint. 

The SP, in her petition, has also sought the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), which was constituted by the Tamil Nadu government to probe the incident, to be reconstituted according to the provisions of the law and to take criminal action against Murugan.

Tamil Nadu government had appointed Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Seema Agarwal to head the ICC. 

The other members of the ICC are 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. 

The State Advocate General, representing Murugan, said that the DVAC comes under the Public Administration Department and not under the Home ministry. He has asked the HC to direct that the woman’s complaint be probed by the ICC under the Public Administration Department, according to reports in local media.

The court had ordered the DVAC to submit CCTV camera footage from its office and to add the ICC as a respondent in the case. It has posted the matter for further hearing on September 11.

Recently, a PIL was filed in the Madras High Court seeking a stay in all the proceedings in the case until the ICC was reconstituted according to the provisions of law. The PIL had stated that the ICC constituted right now is not in accordance with the Supreme Court order in the Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan case, and also the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.   

The PIL details reservations on the inclusion of Saraswathi as a member of the ICC. The petitioner has claimed that there are several allegations against Saraswathi during her time as DSP and while he says he, on his own, is not levelling any allegations against her, he feels that she should not be a member of the ICC. 

According to the workplace sexual harassment law in India, the ICC can probe allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace and prescribe action after proper proceedings. A quasi-legal body, the ICC must be headed by a senior woman in the organisation and must also have an external member who is either part of an NGO or an ‘association committed to the cause of women’ or a person familiar with the issues relating to sexual harassment. The law also stipulates that half the members of the committee must be women.  

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