Explain delay in dealing with sexual harassment cases: Govt to Air India chief

At least two air hostesses have written to the Union WCD minister Maneka Gandhi in the last six months complaining about sexual harassment at work and alleging delay on the part of internal committee investigating the matter, a senior officials said.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:26 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Air India,Sexual harassment,Pradeep Singh Kharola
Air India chief Pradeep Singh Kharola and head of its Internal Complaints Committee, constituted to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment, has been summoned by the WCD ministry. (Reuters File Photo)

Not satisfied with the way Air India has handled complaints of sexual harassment lodged by some of its women staff against a senior executive, the Union women and child development ministry has called the national carrier’s chairman and managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola to its office on August 23 to explain the delay, according to two senior ministry officials who asked not to be identified.

Besides Kharola, the head of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted by Air India to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment has also been summoned by the ministry.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act enacted in 2013 to provide redressal to women employees facing sexual harassment at workplace mandates that every employer set up an ICC headed by a senior woman employee. The law also makes it mandatory for the ICC to complete its inquiry within 90 days of receiving a complaint. And action has to be taken within 60 days of the inquiry concluding.

At least two air hostesses have written to the Union WCD minister Maneka Gandhi in the last six months complaining about sexual harassment at work and alleging delay on the part of ICC in investigating the matter, one of the senior officials quoted above said. “We have called the Air India CMD and head of the ICC on April 23 to take up the matter with them,” said Rakesh Srivastava, WCD secretary.

An Air India spokesperson said: “Women employees in Air India and its subsidiaries have always held pride of place in the organisation and enjoy equal opportunities. Though we can’t comment on anything specific as per section 16 of the sexual harassment act.., we will continue to remain committed to the welfare of our women employees and address their concerns individually.” Senior officials in the civil aviation ministry did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

In June, Gandhi wrote to Suresh Prabhu, her counterpart in the civil aviation ministry, after one air hostess complained to the ministry that a complaint under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act had not been disposed of since August 2017.

In her letter, Gandhi wrote that she had also spoken to Aroona Gopalkrishnan, the head of the ICC constituted by Air India. “Ms Gopalkrishnan could not explain the reasons for delay in disposal of the representation…,” Gandhi wrote to Prabhu.

The WCD minister requested Prabhu to ensure that investigation in the matter was completed soon.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 23:26 IST