High court Upholds IC Decision

Delhi HC ruled that it would not interfere with the IC’s decision if the decision were based on clear evidence and adheres to natural justice principles.


The petitioner, an employee of Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT), challenged his termination order dated November 20, 2014, in this writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner was found guilty of sexually harassing X, a female colleague, according to an Internal Complaints Committee (IC) report dated November 17, 2014, which led to the petitioner’s termination.

Facts Of the Case

After conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations, the IC produced a comprehensive report that spanned 27 pages. Substantial evidence supporting the petitioner’s allegations was found during the investigation. The complainant had informed her coworkers about the incident right away, and multiple witnesses supported her story. According to the report, the petitioner had a pattern of behavior that included these occurrences.     

Key Finding  of the IC

  1.  The complainant’s unnecessary trip to Hyderabad was orchestrated by the petitioner.
  2. The petitioner booked a hotel for the complainant that exceeded her financial entitlement and planned the trip, so they were alone for most of the duration.
  3. The petitioner moved his hotel room to be adjacent to the complainant’s shortly after checking in.
  4. Both the complainant and other female employees reported feeling distressed and harassed after outstation trips with the petitioner.

Arguments  by the Petitioner:

IC jurisdiction: The petitioner contended that the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), where he was posted, was the only body with the authority to look into the complaint, and thus the IC of HLFPPT lacked jurisdiction. The petitioner contended that the IC had overreached itself in recommending his dismissal. According to the petitioner, the complaint was filed with malice in mind, right before the complainant’s contract was about to expire.

Arguments by the Respondent

Respondent HLFPPT argued that since it was the employer, the IC was entitled to look into the complaint. They contended that the IC operated within the authority granted by Section 13(3)(i) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, which permits the IC to suggest suitable measures, such as dismissal. In defending the timing of the complaint, the Respondent also cited the complainant’s vulnerable circumstances, such as the recent death of her father and the absence of a male family support system, which caused her to postpone filing the complaint.

The Court’s Observation:

The IC report and the arguments were carefully examined by the court. It made clear that, unless the department’s conclusions are erroneous or go against natural justice, it does not function as an appeal body for those decisions. Delhi HC made the following observation:

  • Since HLFPPT was the employer, the IC had appropriate jurisdiction.
  • By recommending the petitioner’s termination in accordance with Section 13(3)(i) of the Act, the IC was acting within its jurisdiction.
  • Given the complainant’s precarious circumstances, the ICC gave adequate justification for the delay, so the timing of the complaint did not detract from its merits.

The Court’s Decision

The IC’s findings and conclusions were upheld by the court because they were supported by a substantial body of evidence and were neither irrational nor perverse. The petitioner’s claim that the complainant’s expiring contract was the reason behind the complaint’s delay was rejected. The IC’s investigation yielded no evidence of bias or procedural violations, according to the court. As a result, the court denied the petition and dismissal it.

-By Anaida Khan Pursuing 4th year of BALLB (Hons.) from Dharmashashtra National Law University, Jabalpur

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