The Women and Child Development Ministry shunted out a 1994 batch IAS officer soon after a technical advisor in the Food and Nutrition Board wrote to the ministry complaining about sexual harassment. The Food & Nutrition Board is a technical support wing under the child development bureau of the ministry.
The matter was not formally referred to the internal complaints committee — a body that all offices have to mandatorily constitute. However, sources say an additional secretary did a preliminary inquiry after which the officer was repatriated to his parent cadre. Secretary Vinay Sheel Oberoi said, “The officer was reverted to his parent cadre. You should speak to officer heading the sexual harassment prevention committee about the complaint.”
The matter never reached the committee, reportedly because the ministry was not keen that the matter drag on with a formal inquiry. The complainant had also chosen not to write to the committee but to the minister. The official position is that the repatriation of the officer and the complaint against him of behaving inappropriately with a female colleague are not linked.
“There was a preliminary inquiry conducted by an additional secretary. It was found to be more a case of inappropriate behaviour with a lady colleague rather than a case of sexual harassment which is probably why it was internally decided to keep the matter out of the complaints committee,” explained a source.
“However both the minister and the secretary took a firm stand in the matter that such behaviour from an IAS officer cannot be condoned and being the nodal ministry for implementation of the law against sexual harassment there was a need to send out a strong message. The person concerned was swiftly shifted out of the ministry,” added the officer.
The officer did not respond to calls and SMSes. The complainant, when contacted, did not want to speak about the matter either.