A former employee at a radio station run by the group, supported by two former colleagues, has made the accusations against the station’s CEO Harish Bhatia
A case of sexual harassment and intimidation filed by a former female employee of MY FM, run by the Dainik Bhaskar group (DB corps), against CEO Harish Bhatia came up for hearing at the Mahila court in Saket on Tuesday, but was adjourned till February due to the absence of the judge.
The woman journalist has filed similar complaints before the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the Delhi High Court, alleging extreme sexual harassment by the accused.
She is being supported by two other colleagues who, after allegedly encountering similar sexual victimisation and intimidation at the hands of Mr. Bhatia, resigned in 2010. Synergy Media Entertainment Ltd. (SMEL) of the DB Corps operates My FM radio stations in 17 cities across the country.
On a complaint by the journalist, the Chittaranjan Park police station booked Mr. Bhatia under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC and chargesheeted him last year. He was arrested but got bail. Her FIR gives details of several alleged instances of sexual harassment that took place not only in Delhi, but Chandigarh, Raipur and Mumbai, where she went for work with Mr. Bhatia.
Before going to the police, the journalist went to the National Commission for Women (NCW) in May 2010, saying that Mr. Bhatia had been sexually harassing her for more than a year and gave details of one particular incident on May 7 when he “outraged her modesty.”
Her complaint to the NCW states that when she threatened to complain “a resignation was sent by deceitful means from her office e-mail address.” Another former female employee of My FM, who left the organisation as she “could not tolerate the constant sexual intimidation,” also appeared before the NCW in support of her colleague.
Speaking to The Hindu, the complainant said: “We found the NCW quite ineffective and sometimes biased, which is why we have filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court against the inaction of the NCW.” Her colleague has also given a detailed affidavit about alleged sexual victimisation by Mr. Bhatia.
When The Hindu got in touch with Mr. Bhatia over phone, he refused to comment and did not respond to subsequent calls and text messages. Pawan Aggarwal, a director at DB Corps who looks after SMEL, also did not respond to written and oral queries.
The journalist’s petition before the HC notes: “Harish. M. Bhatia, CEO of SMEL because of his vast and tremendous power in the company had been ill treating and victimising the female employees of the same company to satisfy his carnal desires and many a female employee, including the petitioner, who would not yield to his desires would be humiliated, insulted and put in such mental state by his acts, so as to force the female employees to put in their resignation as per his terms and condition.”
Echoing these allegations, a former Regional Head of My FM at Chandigarh said she was summarily shifted to a post with no work when she complained. “I left the organisation and now earn half of what I used to.”
All the three women said it had taken them three years of concerted effort, frustrating delays and a dent in their savings to bring the matter to this stage.
“All of us earn a fraction of what we used to, because wherever we applied, Mr. Bhatia would badmouth us and prevent us from getting jobs. Taking up such cases is very difficult because not only is there no support from the organisation that we worked for, but the redress machinery is painfully slow.”