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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Delhi HC orders reinstatement of woman discharged from service during pendency of sexual harassment complaint

The court passed the order in a case filed by the woman challenging the termination of her services.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 27, 2021 9:53:37 am
The woman allegedly faced sexual harassment at the hands of a senior employee in the government publication house, and the accused also made racist and sexist comments against women there.

Observing that her employer, instead of providing her the assistance in prosecuting the complaint of sexual harassment, opposed her tooth and nail and even terminated her services pending the inquiry, the Delhi High Court has ordered reinstatement of a woman to her former position and asked the employer to forthwith release her salary along with the arrears within four weeks.

The court passed the order in a case filed by the woman challenging the termination of her services. The woman was appointed to the post of Editor (English) on probation for two years in December 2017, and in February 2018, her appointment was confirmed. The woman allegedly faced sexual harassment at the hands of a senior employee in the government publication house, and the accused also made racist and sexist comments against women there.

In November 2019, she made a complaint with the police and also requested her employer to set up an independent committee to enquire into her sexual harassment complaint. Her complaint was however sent to the Internal Complaints Committee. The woman later moved the Local Committee — where complaints filed against the employer are prosecuted — as she expressed her apprehension regarding the independence and impartiality of the members of ICC. The Local Committee granted her three months’ paid leave as an interim.

However, the ICC continued with its proceedings and later allegedly incorrectly recorded that she was withdrawing her complaint. In February 2020, the employer held her performance to be not satisfactory and discharged her from duties. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said the complaint against the officer against whom the allegation has been made would lie only with the Local Committee and not the Internal Committee and noted that the woman has repeatedly registered her protest about the lack of jurisdiction of ICC.

“The woman would be deemed to continue in service but as a probationer in terms of her appointment letter till the conclusion of the inquiry by the Local Committee. She is reinstated to her former position, with continuity of service, full back wages, and other consequential service benefits,” said the court.

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