A Writ Petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for quashing of statements of witnesses and directing the respondent to conduct the inquiry as per the provisions of Rule 7 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The Petitioner worked as Joint Commissioner in Hindu Religious Endowment Department at Madurai. A complaint dated 02.07.2019 was preferred by the complainant, wherein it is alleged that on 29.06.2019 when the petitioner and complainant discharged their duties at Sathuragiri Hills, Saptur Village, Madurai District, the petitioner by using his Mobile Pen Camera recorded the complainant bathing. The Assistant Commissioner (3rd Respondent) of the Hindu Religious and Endowment Department suspended the petitioner based on the complaint.
The Assistant Commissioner (2nd Respondent) appointed the committee under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act & Rules 2013 to inquire into the serious allegation made in the complaint.
According to the petitioner, the second respondent directed him to appear for inquiry without serving the copy of the complaint along with supporting documents and names and the addresses of witnesses contemplated in Rule 7(1) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Rules 2013. The petitioner informed them that he was on medical leave and that he was not able to appear on the said date.
Thereafter, the petitioner sent another reply stating that he was under medical treatment for blood pressure and giddiness and the Doctor also advised him not to travel. Therefore, the petitioner again sent a communication to the 2nd respondent to follow the provisions of Rule 7(1).
Later, the petitioner again received a communication stating that nearly 16 witnesses submitted their statements and directed the petitioner to appear for inquiry. The learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that as per Rule 7(3) of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013, the petitioner ought to have been granted 10 working days’ time to submit the reply.
The Court directed the 2nd respondent to grant time till 07.08.2019 to the petitioner to submit his reply to the complaint. It is made clear that the 2nd respondent shall conduct an inquiry following the procedures as contemplated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace of 2019 (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules 2013. Further it was directed that, the petitioner shall also co-operate with the committee for inquiry.
– Hamda Arfeen