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Crime Patrol: Sexual harassment victim comes knocking on Antony's door (Episdoe 117, 118 on 08 Jun 2012)

The Inside Story

Jaipur School Principal Accused of Sexual Harassment

The victim of alleged sexual harassment by the principal of an Army Public School in Jaipur sought justice from the Defence Minister A.K. Antony. She was accompanied by Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat and Right to Food activist Kavita Srivastava who presented a memorandum to the Minister. Mr. Antony promised to institute an inquiry into the matter.

The victim, Mangala Bhatt, alleged that the principal, Rajiv Kumar Singh, made lewd comments and inappropriately touched her on several occasions. She was accompanied by her husband, her brother, and Meena Devi, the office help attached to the principal's office, who also lost her job for standing witness against the principal. Both women showed exemplary courage in fighting it out despite the inquiry committees' horrendous treatment.

The inquiry panels were set up to break their spirit rather than to provide them with relief. Far from following Vishaka guidelines, which call for such a panel to be headed by a woman with majority members as women, these male-dominated committees made it worse for the victims with their lewd manner of cross-examination.

After the case became public, the victim's services were terminated, and Meena Devi, who was on contract, was made a daily wager and sacked. Some others who spoke up are apprehensive of similar action. The State Women's Commission held that the Army School was not implementing Supreme Court guidelines relating to Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace.

The principal filed a writ petition in the High Court to get the FIR quashed but was chargesheeted on November 15, 2011. The school management claimed that Ms. Bhatt had been sacked for “inefficiency and indiscipline.” However, Ms. Bhatt wants justice for all teachers, helpers and peons whose services have been terminated. Other women should speak out against such harassment, and justice should be served for all.


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