Sexual Harassment: Madras HC slams gov’t for not taking action against Special DGP

The court pulled up the Government for not suspending the former DGP and sought a status report by March 16

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court pulled up the Tamil Nadu Government for not suspending a Special Director General of Police (DGP), accused of sexually harassing a woman IPS officer, reported The National Herald.

The NH quoted Justice N Anand Venkatesh saying, “Why has the special DGP not been suspended till date? That is the first thing you should have done. You have suspended the SP who waylaid the victim, but not the Special DGP.”

According to The New Indian Express, the Single-judge Bench questioned the State public prosecutor A Natarajan, “The SP was only an arrow, the Special DGP was the bow. But the arrow has been suspended, not the bow. Is the Special DGP so powerful that the State cannot suspend him?”

The court also sought a status report on the investigation by March 16, and clarified that it would closely monitor the probe. The High Court refused to vacate the prohibition against publicising the name of the accused and the survivor saying, “The court does not want a parallel media trial to happen in this case”, reported The New Indian Express.

The Advocate representing the Special DGP submitted that the accused officer was cooperating with the investigation and had made his submission before an internal complaints committee (ICC), but complained about the conduct of a committee member who had openly asked for the accused to be hanged without trial on a WhatsApp group.

Advocate Abdul Saleem said, “And one of the committee members whom I have cited as a witness to my case is sitting as a committee member. Therefore, he may be permitted to put certain things to the court explaining the manner in which the investigation is happening in a sealed cover.”

The New IE report quoted Justice Venkatesh saying, “I would appreciate it if you keep watching as to what is happening here rather than making submissions in this case. The more submissions you make the more the court has a problem…Whatever protest you want to make, give it writing and let it be part of the case file.”

In the last week of February, a woman police officer of SP rank, had alleged sexual misconduct by Tamil Nadu’s Special Director General of Police (law and order) and the government had instituted a committee to look into the complaint. It was also revealed that Chengalpattu SP, D. Kannan allegedly intercepted the complainant’s vehicle while she was on her way to file the complaint, and criminally intimidated her.

On March 1, the Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the incident and called it a “very shocking incident that may impact the women officers belonging to the Tamil Nadu Police Force”. Justice Venkatesh had also added, “If that is the position in which lady officers are placed, it is hard to think as to what will happen if such a sexual harassment had taken place on an ordinary lady with no background.”

While the court took note that FIR had been field in the matter and the officer who indulged in threatening the female officer was also named as accused, the court observed that mere registration of FIR does not take away the sordid state of affairs that is prevailing insofar as sexual harassment in workplaces are concerned.

The complete order may be read here



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