IAF officer accuses colleague of sexual harassment, moves court
A 33-year-old Indian Air Force (IAF) officer posted in Jammu has accused a colleague of sexually harassing her and moved the Jammu & Kashmir high court, which has issued a notice seeking the Centre’s response to the complainant’s plea for a fair probe and protection to witnesses. The court also onMarch 31 barred the IAF’s Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) constituted from looking into the case from proceeding further in the matter.
The complainant has alleged intimidation and harassment during the ICC proceedings and said she was asked “obscene and dishonourable questions”. She has also sought the transfer of the accused to prevent him from allegedly threatening and harassing her and other witnesses.
Judge Sanjeev Kumar has given four weeks to the respondents, including the colleague, to file their objections. “Subject to objections and till next date before the Bench, it is provided that the Internal Complaints Committee, which is looking into a complaint of sexual harassment at workplace filed by the petitioner, shall not proceed further,” said Kumar’s order on March 31. The case has been listed for the next hearing on May 10.
The complainant has accused the colleague of repeatedly demanding sexual favours, passing lewd remarks and touching her inappropriately. She has also expressed reservations over the manner in which ICC was conducting “lopsided” proceedings over her complaint. “That on January 25, 2021, the ICC started and during the ICC the respondent number 8 [the accused] and few other officers again started intimidating and harassing petitioner and her witnesses and total 6 days cross examination of petitioner by respondent number 8 has taken place which is unheard of in a fact finding committee i.e. the ICC. About 300 questions were put to the petitioner and even obscene and dishonourable questions were put to the petitioner without ICC’s intervention and without objecting on irrelevant and obscene questions...”
The petitioner called the Air Force Order under which the ICC proceedings were being held violative of Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution. She said the complainant does not get the right to cross-examine the accused or his witnesses under the order. But the complainant and her witnesses can be cross-examined, she added.