An internal probe at Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcaster, has found that a top official sexually harassed a junior employee, prompting the information and ministry to issue an order to book him under relevant laws. This has now snowballed into a turf war.
The ministry wants the matter to be handed to the police at once under “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013”.
“Prasar Bharati may initiate the necessary action at the earliest. The ministry may be informed of the action taken,” a letter from Abha Shukla, joint secretary in the ministry to Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar, states.
Asked, Sircar told HT that although he was “acting in accordance with the law” in the case, the ministry was “using various issues” to interfere into Prasar Bharati’s affairs.
On August 12, an employee had lodged a written complaint before state-run channel Doordarshan’s women’s cell, alleging molestation and harassment by additional director-general Raj Shekhar Vyas, who has now been shifted to the All India Radio. No police complaint has been lodged yet.
“A chargesheet has been served on the official and we are awaiting his reply. I am following the law. But the ministry is trying to shorten the arm’s length distance that it is required to maintain with Prasar Bharati under the law on occasion after occassion,” Sircar said.
After hearing both sides and witnesses, an internal probe concluded “a prima facie case of sexual harassment is made out” against Vyas. According to section 13 of India’s anti-sexual harassment law, a police complaint must be lodged if “prima facie evidence” is found. Although the ministry spends close to `1,800 crore annually on Prasar Bharti, it is required by law to maintain an “arm’s length” distance from it because it is a news provider.