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NASSCOM chief to be prosecuted

Som Mittal faces charges for allegedly giving inadequate security to a female staff killed while travelling home after work in Dec 2005.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2008 05:23 PM IST

The head of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) will be prosecuted for allegedly giving inadequate security to a female employee killed while travelling home after work, after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Thursday.

Pratibha Srikanth Murthy, an employee of an Indian division of Hewlett-Packard Co, was being driven home in a company taxi after finishing her night shift when her driver raped and murdered her in December 2005.

Som Mittal was the managing director of Hewlett-Packard GlobalSoft at the time. He is now the president of NASSCOM.

The government of Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital, is prosecuting Mittal under a law governing employee safety, said Sanjay Hegde, counsel for the state. The Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the charge on Thursday.

"As a consequence of this judgement the managing director's prosecution under the Shops and Establishments Act will continue in the state of Karnataka," Hegde told reporters.

Murthy's death prompted debate about the safety of women working the night shift in call centres and back offices across the country.

Hegde said the case was intended to be a signal to employers to do more to protect their employees and pay heed to the law.

NASSCOM said it had no comment on the case. Hewlett-Packard's India office said it would not like to comment on the case while it is before the court, other than to say that neither Mittal nor the company had yet been found guilty.

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