At a time when the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) finds itself embroiled in a sexual harassment row, a decade-old similar episode has returned to haunt the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
The Delhi High Court has summoned CISF Deputy Inspector General (L&R) for an explanation on disciplinary action against a woman constable, Harbans Kaur, who tried to throw her shoe at a senior officer to save herself from his indecent advances in August 1997. Found guilty of "misconduct", she was removed from service the next year.
Following a representation from Kaur, a Home Ministry-ordered inquiry by the CISF directorate had in 2005 January established that the woman had only acted in self-defence.
Kaur, who is posted at the Lodhi Road office of the CISF, was reinstated soon after but is still not completely exonerated.
Giving her a "lesser punishment for misconduct", CISF DIG (L&R) Pratap Singh issued an order reducing her pay by one stage and cancelled all increments for 4 years.
She was denied back wages of seven years of her dismissal period which was also treated as "dies-non" (not part of service), which affected her seniority.
A copy of the DIG's order, in possession of Hindustan Times, says: "The MHA after examining the report of the enquiry committee observed that the misbehaviour on the part of lady constable had been result of provocation caused by ASI Maan Singh. Although the allegation of sexual harassment has not been clearly established, yet the totality of the circumstances clearly point to the fact that she had taken the extreme step as a reaction to the sustained indecent behaviour of ASI Maan Singh….she had attempted the assault out of sheer frustration".
Kaur had moved the HC seeking complete exoneration. Terming the CISF order as "highly unjustified", her lawyer Rekha Palli contended: "The offending official ensured no action was taken against him and the poor victim was being harassed...Treatment of victims of sexual harassment in this manner will create dangerous precedent ...," said Palli.
Prima-facie holding that the way the whole episode had been dealt with "left much to be desired", a Bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul said on Friday. The bench said: "After a fresh examination it was found to be a case of sexual harassment and yet the petitioner is sought to be punished for her reaction to the sexual harassment."