Article (December-2017)

Articles

6. All unwelcome physical contact not sexual harassment

Editorial Team

Designation : -   Editorial

Organization : -  Business Manager HR Magazine

01-Dec-2017

Facts  of the case:
The petitioner had made a complaint regarding incident that occurred on 29.04.2005. The petitioner had alleged that while she was working at the laboratory, respondent no.3 had entered the laboratory and stopped the machine and snatched the samples from the petitioner and had thrown the materials. He had, thereafter, pushed the petitioner out of the laboratory and had locked the laboratory. The petitioner also alleged that he was shouting and using derogatory language against one Dr Sood and Scheduled Castes Community (as she was married to a person belonging to the SC category). However, it appears that the said complaint was not forwarded to the concerned authorities at the relevant time.

Subsequently, the petitioner was requested to complete the formalities relating to certain equipment of HEM division before leaving the same as the said division had been dissolved. In this connection, the petitioner made a noting alleging that respondent no.3 had been harsh in his behaviour and had threatened her not to enter the laboratory, while abusing Dr Jain, Dr Sood as well as the petitioner. She also stated that this was reported by her.

The said complaint was forwarded by Dr P. K. Jain under cover of his note dated 03.03.2006 "for further investigation of sexual harassment" of the petitioner by respondent no.3, who was at the material time holding the designation of HoD (FPD).

Since the expression "sexual harassment? had not been used by the petitioner in her noting, the concerned officer of Central Road Research Institute (hereinafter "the CRRI?) forwarded Dr P. K. Jain’s note to the petitioner inquiring whether she desired to pursue the aforesaid complaint. By a further memo dated 14.08.2006, the concerned officer also requested the petitioner to submit a clarification whether the complaint involved harassment of a sexual nature. In response thereto, the petitioner sent a letter dated 18.08.2006 now alleging that she had been subjected to "all kinds of harassment including sexual harassment" by respondent no.3. She further requested that all complaints made against respondent no.3 be perused in totality.

In view of the above, the Director, CRRI constituted a Complaint Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr Usha Sharma, Emeritus Scientist, Indian Agricultural Research Institute. The Complaint Committee constituted of five persons including one member from a non- government organization. The petitioner objected to inclusion of one of the members (Shri G. K. Vij) who was replaced by Dr S. Gangopadhyay. One of the members, Dr Saroj Gupta, was appointed as a convenor of the Complaint Committee.

The Committee examined the complaint made by the petitioner, inter alia, concluding that the complaint was not of any sexual harassment but was a case of altercation in the background of the uncongenial environment prevailing in the division. The Complaint Committee also found that respondent no.3 had indulged in using un-parliamentary language with his colleagues and juniors which was deplorable. The Complaint Committee submitted its report. The relevant extract indicating the Committee’s conclusion is set out below:-

"a. Mrs Shanta Kumar faced difficulties in carrying out her work in F.P. Division. She felt aggrieved as
i) an incident of Dr Bose holding her arm occurred on 29.04.2005.

ii) She was placed in the common pool and transferred.

iii) She was prevented from marking her attendance in the P. F. Division.

iv) She was not allowed to transfer the equipments in her name after her transfer.

b. Dr. P. K. Jain, did not provide evidence to substantiate the “sexual harassment” aspect of the incidence as mentioned by him in the complaint forwarded by him on 03.03.2006.

c. The complaint is associated with a number of administrative and managerial issues and inter- personal conflicts.

d. The complaint is not a sexual harassment case but it was case of altercation in the background of the uncongenial environment prevailing in the Division.

e. Dr. Sunil Bose appears to be a short tempered persons and occasionally indulged in using up- parliamentary language with colleagues and juniors, which is deplorable."

Shanta Kumar vs. Council Of Scientific And Industrial Research (CSIR) decided on 31 October, 2017 (Delhi H.C.) W.P.(C) 8149/2010