HC relief to woman officer in sexual harassment case

A woman Research Officer with the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine got relief from the Delhi High Court.

New Delhi: A woman Research Officer with the
Department of Indian Systems of Medicine got relief from the
Delhi High Court which has directed the government to
constitute a "proper" committee to inquire into her accusation
of sexual harassment by a senior colleague.

The woman officer, working in the Department of Ayurveda,
Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH)
under the Health Ministry, had contended that the sexual
harassment committee appointed earlier by Department was
headed by a person junior to the accused, which was against
the law in this regard.

Aggrieved by non-compliance of guidelines laid down by
the apex court in this regard by the Department, she had
approached the Central Administrative Tribunal which declined
to direct the government to re-constitute the committee on the
ground of lack of jurisdiction.

However, the High Court said that it was not "powerless"
to direct compliance of the apex court`s guidelines.

"If the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction, it does not
leave aggrieved without any remedy and she would be entitled
to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under
Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

"It will be appropriate to direct the government to have
Secretary Department of AYUSH as Chairperson of sexual
harassment committee in place of the officer junior to the
accused against whom allegation of sexual harassment has been
made," a Bench of Justices Mool Chand Garg and Anil Kumar

The court said the re-constituted committee would
consider the woman officer`s complaint in accordance with the
guidelines and law laid down by the apex court.

The woman officer had alleged "she was harassed as she
was not succumbing to the evil designs of the Director of the
Department of AYUSH who was sexually harassing her."

Earlier, the officer was advised to appear and give her
statement before the committee which was constituted following
her complaint in 2008, which allegedly acted in biased manner.

She contended that the chairperson of the earlier
committee was adviser and other committee members were from
Unani Council, which was under the disciplinary and
administrative control of the accused and the members could
not be expected to write against their Director/head of the

While the petition was pending before the High Court, a
second sexual harassment Committee was re-constituted by the
department. However, the Members of the Committee were the

The Tribunal had dismissed her plea saying "the ordering
constitution of fresh sexual harassment committee would not be
a matter in relation to service matters."


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