Article (December-2017)

Articles

2. What is sexual harassment?

Editorial Team

Designation : -   Editorial

Organization : -  Business Manager HR Magazine

01-Dec-2017

Facts of the case:
In Pithoragarh where an army unit is situated, an Army Public School known as Gen. B.C. Joshi Army Public School is being run by a society known as Army Welfare Education Society.

Appellant (Brig. D.S. Grewal, hereinafter referred to as ‘Grewal’) is the Chairman of the School Managing Committee while Col. Hitendra Bahadur appellant is the Vice Chairman thereof. Chairman, School Managing Committee.

Vimmi Joshi applied for and was appointed as a Trained Graduate Teacher in Gen. B.C. Joshi Army Public School. She was later on appointed as Post Graduate Teacher (Mathematics). She was confirmed in the said post. She worked as an officiating Principal from 10.2.2003 to 10.8.2003. She was appointed as the Principal of the school from 10.2.2004.

Hitendra Bahadur was a Deputy Commander, 69 Mountain Brigade. He, at the relevant time, was posted at Pithoragarh. While he was stationed at Sonamarg in connection with providing security cover to pilgrims of `Amarnath Yatra', he wrote a letter to the first respondent, the contents whereof read as under:-

“My dearest Vimi, Allow me to confess to you that I have fallen in love with you. What a man needs in a woman ? Love, trust and faith, when I look deep into your eyes I find there in abundance. No where in my life I have ever come across a woman where intelligence, appearance, maturity and beauty is so well awarded in one single person as in you. You are no doubt, a very charming and gorgeous woman, beautiful and attractive. You are very magnetic. Always elegantly drew-up, you look very stylist and fashionable with slim and slender body. You appear absolutely fit, intelligent, witty, confident, compassionate and very much in control, you are truly a role model for all young people at you place and most darling friend to me. I adore you from the core of my heart and always value our friendship. You are precious and priceless. May I extend my hands towards you and hold your hands tightly and ask you to lean on my shoulder when ever you need me. It will be a great pleasure. With lots of love.”

Allegedly Hitendra Bahadur used to make advances towards Vimi Joshi. She reported the matter to Grewal. Her father also met him. Allegedly he was abused by Grewal.

On or about 25th October, 2004 two anonymous complaints were received by the Managing Committee from the Head Quarters as against Vimi Joshi. By a memorandum dated 25th October, 2004 she was asked to give her comments on the said allegations. She made her comments by her letter dated 27th October, 2004. However, her services were terminated by an order dated 4th December, 2004.

"1. Refer to this Headquarters letter number 620401/1/APS/Sigs-4 dated 30th Sep 2004 and Article 186 (f) of AWES Rules and Regulations Vol.-I, for Army Schools/Army Public School (Oct 2003 Edition).

2. SMC regrets to inform you that your services are no more required, hence your services are terminated forthwith.

3. A cheque bearing machine number 176096 dated 04th Dec 04 for Rs.14,200.00 (Rupees fourteen thousand two hundred only) towards one month salary is enclosed as per the agreement.

4. Handing/Taking over all documents and other important correspondence held on your charge will be carried out with Mr. Kunwar Pratap Singh (Senior most PCT) of Gen BC Joshi APS, Pithoragarh.

A writ petition was filed by her questioning the legality of the said order of termination alleging sexual harassment by Hitendra Bahadur as one of the grounds, wherein an interim order was passed on 3.5.2006.

In the meanwhile a purported enquiry was conducted. Vimi Joshi allegedly participated therein. By a report dated 20th January, 2005 it was found to be not a case of sexual harassment. Hitendra Bahadur was directed to be counseled.

High Court held that it was a clear cut case of sexual harassment of the writ petitioner- Vimi Joshi herein. It was, therefore, directed:-

Therefore, the Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Government of India and the Chief of the Army Staff are directed to take disciplinary action against these two officers, as the case of sexual harassment is evident from the contents of the letter and the admission by both the officers followed by the termination of the petitioner.

The progress of the disciplinary action so taken in such a serious manner which may even warrant the court martial proceedings of these two  officers shall be submitted before this Court within a period of two months from the date of production of the certified copy of this order.

A first information report was also lodged against Vimi Joshi by the school management alleging financial irregularities. After investigation carried out in this behalf a final report was submitted exonerating her and the report has been accepted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Pithoragarh by an order dated 13th February, 2006.

D.S. Grewal vs. Vimi Joshi & Ors on 17 December, 2008  (S.C.) CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7355 2008 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 10044 of 2006; 2009 (LLN) 2 (1) S.C.