Chennai

PIL against panel set up by DGP

A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court accusing the Director General of Police of having constituted a “defective” Internal Complaints Committee in an attempt to help a senior police officer in the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption escape from a sexual harassment complaint lodged by a female Superintendent of Police.

K. Prem Anand, 31, a resident of Choolaimedu here, had filed the petition urging the High Court to stay all further proceedings pursuant to the constitution of the committee by the DGP on August 17. He also sought for a direction to reconstitute the committee by including a member of a non governmental organisation committed to the cause of women.

The other relief sought for by the litigant was to direct the Chief Secretary to issue a circular instructing all government departments, organisations, undertakings, establishments, enterprises, local bodies, cooperative societies and other units substantially financed by the State to constitute individual Internal Complaints Committees forthwith.

In his affidavit, Mr. Anand said that the idea of forming such committees in public as well as private establishments in the country was first mooted by the Supreme Court in the famous Vishaka versus State of Rajasthan case on August 13, 1997. The court felt that constitution of such committees would bring down instances of sexual harassment at workplace. However, the court directive remained largely on paper for several years with very little compliance. Though the Parliament too enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, the provisions of this law were not implemented in letter and spirit even by the States , he said.

It was only after the news of the woman Superintendent of Police having lodged a complaint against her higher official rocked the State that the DGP constituted a committee led by Additional Director General of Police Seema Agrawal but the committee did not contain any member from a NGO, he claimed.

The petitioner said that Section 4 of the 2013 Act states that every Internal Complaints Committee should consist of one presiding officer and a minimum of three members of whom one should be from a NGO/association committed to the cause of women or a person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment of women.

Nevertheless, the committee constituted by the DGP consists of Additional Director General of Police Su. Arunachalam, Deputy Inspector General of Police P.C. Thenmozhi, Senior Administrative Officer V.K. Ramesh Babu and retired Additional Superintendent of Police S. Saraswathi as members and does not contain even a single social worker, he said.

Mr. Anand insisted that Ms. Saraswathi should be replaced with a social worker with sufficient experience in espousing the cause of women.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 5:20:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/pil-against-panel-set-up-by-dgp/article24824423.ece

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