Sexual harassment complaint tutor against the (Head of Department) HoD: Taking actions against the violent protests staged by the Anti-Sexual Harassment Action Committee (ASHAC) over the giving of clean chit to the accused in a sexual harassment case.

Sexual Harassment Action Committee calls Faridkot Bandh
Sexual Harassment Action Committee calls Faridkot Bandh

The case was reported in Faridkot city of Punjab. The HoD of Guru Govind Singh Medical College allegedly harassed a medical officer consistently over one pretext or the other. The HoD had denied all allegations. The medical officer also alleged that when she filed a complaint against the incidents, the local authorities made all possible efforts to save the HoD and before finally giving him a clean chit. Protesting against the anomalies in the procedures, ASHAC announced a state level protest and even staged a “dharna” infront of the Deputy Commissioner office. Police had arrested a senior member of ASHAC Rajinder Singh over his role in the violent protests in the city.

It is not a novel thing that the influential personalities somehow get a clean chit without the holding of any proper enquiry by the concerned authorities and the denial of appropriate remedy to the victimized complainant.

Earlier this year, a similar incident floated when the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was accused of sexual harassment by a Supreme Court employee. A bech was set up for inquiry into the case by the CJI himself which eventually gave him a clean chit. Notably, Justice S.A. Bobde, who headed that bench was later recommended by CJI Gogoi to be appointed as the next CJI. It was reported that the Supreme Court employee was not even given a lawyer to defend her case, which is in violation of statutory right. Also, a relative of the employee who also worked at the Supreme Court was reportedly removed from his office following the incident.

When the “hon’ble” Supreme Court could not maintain it’s procedural transparency and more importantly it’s sanctity, it is preposterous to expect the local authorities to maintain theirs, since subordinates are only supposed to follow the precedents set by the Apex authority.

Even if it is considered that the allegations made against both the accused- the HoD in this case and the CJI in his case- were false and concocted, the anomalies in the cases suggest otherwise. Why is it so that when the accused is a person possessing certain powers or having an influence on others, there is laxity in the following of proper procedures by the concerned authorities?

For some reason, the informal authority possessed by these influential personalities is given more importance than the actual processes and the powers vested in the investigating authorities. Ultimately, it is not just the victim, but also the society at large that suffers because it has vested so much faith in these institutions, that any injustice done by them renders it meek and helpless.

The only panacea for this mire is working towards a more transparent system. Right to information and right to freedom of speech and expression are such tools that have immense latent potential which if exercised properly can create a huge difference and improve the standards of our justice delivery system.

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This post is written by Prajjwal Gaur. For more info, dial 99888-17966.