Article (December-2017)


6 Case That underline the spirit of POSH Law - 1. What is workplace?

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Facts of the case:
At the relevant time when the alleged episode occurred, the Mr. Saurabh Mallick was positioned as Director (Administration) at the National Academy of Audit and Account (in short 'NAAA), Shimla. Ms. Geetali Tare was also working in the same Academy as Director (Training). Thus, both were holding equivalent post, namely, that of Director, though Ms. Geetali Tare (hereinafter referred to as the 'complainant') was senior to the petitioner. On 31.3.2007, the complainant lodged FIR against the petitioner herein under Section 451/354 IPC. Simultaneously, a complaint was also made to the Director General of the NAAA. A supplementary complaint dated 12.4.2007 was also made to the office of the Comptroller General of India wherein the complainant stated certain additional facts which she could not mention in her original complaint.

Section 451 relates to house-trespass in order to commit any offence punishable with imprisonment and Section 354 deals with assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.

Within four days of the lodging of this FIR, the petitioner was transferred from Shimla to Kerala. In the first undated complaint, the complainant alleged that on 30.3.2007, there was an official dinner at Radisson Hotel. After the dinner, she returned to the Academy along with certain officials/colleagues, including the petitioner at around 11:30 pm by staff car. Other officers were dropped at their residence and thereafter, the complainant and the petitioner proceeded to Glen Mess where the petitioner was occupying Room Nos. 11 and 12 with his family on the ground floor and the complaint was residing in Room No. 21 on the first floor. When she proceeded towards her room the petitioner followed and entered her room forcibly. The incident which took place is narrated in the complaint in the following words:

Inside the room, he said to me 'I want you'. He repeated this statement four times. I replied 'Saurabh, you have insulted me in the worst way that a man can insult a woman. Please leave the room at once. He replied to this by saying 'Have I said anything wrong? Is it so unnatural?' I said 'mujhe kucch pata nahin, aap please mere room se baahar niklo.' (I don't know anything, you please leave my room). I have repeated this statement six times. Upon hearing this, he approached me and caught hold of my wrists. He forced me onto the bed in a sitting position. I pushed him back and shouted 'Get out of here! Get out of my room.' All this happened inside Room No. 21 of Glen officers' mess. We were all alone in the room. There was no one on the entire floor as all participants of an in-service course had left. Since Mr. Mallick was not listening to my shouts of 'Get out of my room'. I myself walked out of room No. 21. Mr. Mallick followed me out of the room, all this while saying 'I am sorry. I am sorry.' I replied by saying 'Aap ne mere saath bahut badi badtameezi ki hai.' (You have misbehaved terribly with me). I then went back to Room No. 21. Mr. Mallick followed me there. However, I pushed him out of the room and locked the door from inside. For 10 minutes after that he kept knocking on my door saying 'Ma'am, ek minute baahar aayiye. I am sorry.' (Please come out for a minute). The time could be more or less. I was not paying any attention to the clock. I then called Mr. Deepak Kappor & Mr. S.K. Thakur on the internal telephone. They both came within a few minutes.

In the supplementary complaint dated 12.4.2007, the complainant had stated that there were some more facts which she could not bring to the notice of the authorities and her narrative is to the following effect:

Mr. Mallick was drunk not just during the episode when he tried to assault me, but throughout the evening of 30th march 2007. He had caused a commotion in the course of the dinner at Radisson Hotel earlier that evening. This was in the presence of Mr. B.S. Gill, Additional Deputy Controller & Auditor General, Mr. Samar Ray, Director General, National Academy of Audit & Accounts, Smt. Suman Saxena, Accountant General (Himachal Pradesh), M/s. Sushil Thakur and Deepak Kapoor, Directors, National Academy of Audit & Accounts.

Mr. Mallick had also got inebriated at two other dinners: the first, hosted by DG, NAAA on 14th March 2007 and the second one hosted by AG (HP) at Radisson Hotel on 15th March 2007 in honour of the hon'ble Auditor General of Pakistan.

Question Involved
Whether the place where the alleged incident took place can be treated as the 'workplace' of the complainant?

Saurabh Kumar Mallick Vs. the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and anr. (Delhi High Court) Case No. - WP(C) No. 8649/2007 (2008 LLR 1118)