Reinstate Female Editor Sacked After Alleging Racism, Sexual Harassment: HC Order

New Delhi: In a significant judgment, the Delhi High Court has ordered that a sacked female editor be reinstated.

An editor working in an Akademi was served a termination notice after she accused the organization’s Secretary of sexually harassing her, reported.

The woman, who is from the North-East, had complained that the Secretary used to make inappropriate sexual advances towards her, besides making racist and sexist comments.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva held that the Secretary in question was an employer in terms of section 2(g) of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act because day-to-day affairs of the office where the editor was employed were managed and controlled by him. He stated that a complaint of sexual harassment against the employer would lie only to the Local Committee and that the Internal Complaints Committee of the organization would not have any jurisdiction to entertain any complaint against the Secretary.

The lady, who was recruited as Editor (English) on probation for a two-year period in 2017, said in her complaint that she faced severe sexual harassment of many forms — including inappropriate sexual advances, unwelcome physical and sexual contact, and sexually-coloured remarks — at the hands of the Secretary.

The Secretary countered her complaint by verbally abusing and screaming at her in others’ presence and also repeatedly accused her of poor performance and inefficiency.

In 2019, the editor lodged a complaint with the police station and also wrote sent an email to the Akademi’s Executive Board urging for an independent committee to be set up to inquire into her complaint.

Her complaint was duly referred to Internal Complaints Committee, but the board didn’t iled to take any action against the Secretary.

She then filed a complaint to the Local Committee which granted her relief of three months’ paid leave.

She objected to a notice to appear before the Internal Committee, alleging that the committee members were pressurizing her to withdraw her complaints to police and Local Committee, and reconcile with the Secretary.

It was then that she approached the high court.

The court observed that even though it was contended on behalf of the Akademi that the President is the in-charge of all its offices, it was an admitted position that the President was not based in Delhi and that the day to day affairs of the office where the woman was employed were managed and control by the sevretary.

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