Respondents told to file replies to petition by May 15

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Prasar Bharti Chief Executive Officer on a public interest litigation alleging sexual harassment of women radio jockeys at FM Gold and Rainbow radio channels of All India Radio (AIR).

Issuing the notices, a Division Bench of Justice Darmar Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain asked the respondents to file their replies to the petition by May 15.

Quoting media reports and a complaint filed by the All-India Radio Broadcasting Professionals’ Association with the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), the petitioner, Meera Mishra, through her counsel Sugriva Dubey, submitted that the women employees suffered misbehaviour and unprofessional conduct at the hands of superior officers at their work place.

She submitted that no action had been taken against the responsible officials despite complaints being lodged with the Director, AIR Delhi Station, and its copies sent to the Director-General AIR.

Alleging that the AlR had not appointed a sexual harassment committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment as mandated by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka judgment, the petitioner said the safety of the women employees working on night shifts was not taken care of.

The women employees working on night shifts were forced to walk down to a pick up point and dropped far away from their homes at odd hours. “We have to constantly face overt advances and sexist remarks of the officials,’’ the petitioner quoted the women programme presenters as saying in their complaint to the DCW.

The petitioner further charged that the programme presenters were quite often forced to meet programme executives, chat with them and pamper their egos while duty officers often harassed them by making obscene comments and gestures on the pretext of grading their works.

In her prayer, the petitioner urged the Court to direct the AIR to stop sexual harassment of women employees at their work place. She also urged the Court to direct the AIR to implement the Vishaka judgment guidelines for dealing sexual harassment cases at work places and frame policies and guidelines in respect of service conditions of these harassed employees.