By Vivek Singh, Institute of Law, Nirma University
Editor’s Note: According to the author, a male employee who is in a higher position is always in search of taking undue advantages of a female employee.This research paper is based on real legal dispute at the trial court level with regards to the right of working women. In this case, a female employee of a Bank was allegedly sexually harassed by the Zonal Manager which led to her filing a suit in the Court.
Who would like to work on a place where she was raped? How can you cooperate with the one who has raped you? How would one feel when the person who has raped her is moving free and giving orders? But this is the reality, which a great country like India is facing because of its basic problems like unemployment and poverty. But let me remind you one thing this cannot take away ones right as it is been rightly said,
Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.
— Eleanor Roosevelt.
But this is a current practice going on in our country where a person sitting on a higher position is always in search of taking undue advantages of the female employee and women are in such position where they can’t even complain or take any action because if they do so she won’t be able to work any more and working conditions would become more difficult than earlier and would loose her social status and respect for whole of her life. Who would love that and this further gives rise to these types of crimes in our society.
India being a male dominated society this leads to many difficulties in survival of women. Furthermore they face many issues like domestic violence, female foeticide, illiteracy and discrimination everywhere but if some one escapes from this all she faces “sexual harassment at workplace” and this has just a cause behind it, which is superiority complex in man sitting at higher position. This is not only the case of unorganized sector or people working at local level this is seen even at the multi-national companies, office of an civil servant so, we can not blame illiteracy or any such factor as its root cause this. This is the mentality of people they think being a male they can do anything and this is happening in a democratic country like India where power is derived from its people.
This problem particularly does not exist only at national level many countries are facing this problem but are unable to sort it out because changing the thinking of any person is very difficult task and if you particularly talk about India, here people are very much addicted to their culture and tradition and discrimination on the basis of gender and discrimination on the base of caste are some of the example which can easily be extracted out of Indian society. But it is not only our culture, it can also be seen through the fact that our literacy rate continuously increasing more and more people are going for higher studies and at the same time there is increase in number of rapes and forced sexual relationship. So if this problem is not readily sorted out can take another form in futurelike as happened in United States of America their largest number of cases of sexual harassment at workplace and rape are being reported and they are civilized, they are educated and they are ahead in technology but still this problem prevails their. So this is not only a result of our tradition or culture as many of the people thinks this way.
The crime of sexual harassment at workplace is like a stoppage to our developing India where every lady wants to study and work but these types of crime are becoming obstacles to those aspiring minds and the pressure from the parents and society dump their dreams within their hearts and dwell their lives into the traditionally acclaimed by our ancestors for doing household works but let me tell you the women is the only creature in the world who can perform various task at the same time and that to with full perfection. This can be inferred from simple household example where a woman makes all three time food, control her little children, serve her father and mother and some also have some household business and are doing well and it is being rightly recognized by a women activist who says
“Modern invention has banished the spinning wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of today a different woman from her grandmother.”
— Susan B. Anthony, Women’s Activist
The case in question dealt with the Bank manager and the Zonal Head of the Bank where the Zonal Head was accused of trying to sexually harass a women employee who was a Bank Manager at the Air Force (Chakeri) Branch of Punjab National Bank and also belonging to schedule caste she was also discriminated on the basis of caste and she also complained about it to other higher authorities but nothing happened because of the dominance of the zonal head with his colleagues. But here mainly what happened was that when a Bank Manager Madhuri Gautam got her first posting at Air Force office she lacks in experience of a post so she sometimes took help from the that time Assistant senior manger Laxmi Kant but he started calling her with different numbers and talks in double meaning language and one day Madhuri stopped him from doing so then he started being very strict and never helped her again and also stated harassing her mentally.
But on 08/11/2013 another assistant senior manger (S. K. Rawal) of the bank came to the branch and he usually talked about the working and other things related to bank and ordered her to come at zonal office in the evening and she went their and reached their at 6:55 and straight away went to his office. They both were talking about their work and then the call came on the S.K. Rawal’s phone and he said she has came and is sitting in front of me and then he said to me that go Laxmi Kant Chanana ji is calling you. So with due respect and orders she went to his office.
There in his office he was sitting with one of the customer of Bank named Susheel and as she entered Laxmi Kant started shouting and said Why are you doing parallel banking you know him he has filed a complaint against you. And ordered her to ask for apology and touch his feet and forcefully she has to do that and then he turned to Mr. Susheel and said see what is her situation and asked him to go now. And as he left he came to the place where Madhuri was sitting and said you must have seen what I can do with you and your career, now you would be well aware of my powers. I will stop your promotion and even can expel you out of this bank. Then he moved towards her and touched the cheeks and said I am waiting for you since two years and requesting for it, just come to my home once and make me fell better and take good marks in form appraiser either do this or have fake allegations against you and make your way out of the bank the choice is yours. This will be kept secret and no one will have smell about it.
After feeling such a humiliations she directly went home and was in great dilemma what to do and what not to do. So on 14/11/2013 she complained about it to the Zonal head of the Bank via registered post and also updated it to the union. At the same time Union took a CCTV footage and asked about registering a complaint about Laxmi kant but within one week their was no proceedings from the side of the bank, then she complained to National Women Commission through Internet whose number is 8/c/1304067/2013/N CW/NSP/MKU. Now Mr. Laxmi Kant is continuously keeps an eye on my acts and blames me for irrelevant acquisitions.
Now, currently the judgment has came of the case and is against Madhuri and this all is because of use of power of Mr. Laxmi Kant but relying on the power of judiciary and keeping faith on our judicial system she has filed a protest and appealed it to higher forum in search of justice.
If you go deep beyond in these types of crimes we can easily analyze why these type of crime happens which further shows that there is a clear representation of dominance and power to its lower subordinate and to a person who is inferior in post or he thinks it to be in gender. What I found particularly in this case was that a senior officer who is the head of the department is actually acting as a dictator and enforcing his orders on his lower employees and you are bound to follow them, if you try to question them your regular promotion will be stopped and false allegations will be levied against you and your career will be thrashed off. This raises a question against our society and our country where our constitution provides us with so many rights and see what is happening.
This does not stop here the bank department also ignored its future impacts even today also Madhuri is working under the same administration and reports to the same staff. Bank administration would have thought of transferring one or the other person so with this the situation is same as it was before and now the judgment has also came against Madhuri and people do not find any hesitation against passing comments on her this all leads to total destruction of morale of any one.
But a new point has came out of this all which says that it is seen in almost 65% of the cases women falsely complaint against male whom they want to take any sort of revenge. This gives us two propositions where one says that we should with closed eyes believe and start punishing women about false complaining and another one says that we should look upon those issues clearly as what happened in this upper cited case happens I many case where because of the domination of these high people who acquire these high position in society and have their impact on legal system. And this also seems to be true in some of the cases where actually women have put false allegations on their co-working members in order to take some revenge or any sort of their persona grudges.
Taking the example of recent cases we can easily denote the condition of our country where an editor in chief of a very renowned magazine tries to rape his Secretary. Whether this is the result of false allegation or really their was something as in these cases because of media hype and our audience. Same is the case of retired Supreme Court Judge Justice Ganguly, who was alleged by the girl student of NUJS Kolkata who previously interned under him. What we can say all about these thing how to judge we can only rely on court proceedings for truth.
So these type have very unsurity about the commission or non-commission of the crime. But these are very serious issues and should be considered with supreme priority and government has to play a very important role in providing justice to both the side and firstly we have to be gender neutral this might seem to gender biased people because with as equality presupposes inequality same happens in being gender biased when you are lenient towards one section it undermines other section. So this should be strictly prohibited and avoided. Here an employer can play a vital role in it by amending some laws for his company like strictly having an HR section their and appropriate proportion of women and men employees in a company so that uniformity and proper connection is maintained.
This alone would not be able eradicate the problem of this complex country and more of a complex situation and one of the core issue about this problem is that these are very less reported crime even in today’s world so what do is to we need to do is we should have some good amount of female employees too at every position and it should be the prime importance of the employee to provide full security in the office and proper transportation facility for extra working hours and one very important thing that the whole office campus should be under the surveillance of camera or CCTV as this gives a fear in mind of the criminal a well as it also further help in preparing evidences against the accused and would not paralyze the plaintiff for collecting proof as it becomes very strong proof.
Now if you talk about sociological point of view how society reacts over it and what are the future consequences of the act as we are well aware that when this happens to one people react to it very absurdly so we need to understand the plight of the victim the mental trauma faced by her and by her family who is in need of support. But people instead providing some help to her taunt her and would say she is a woman a poor character, which should be strictly avoided to prevent greater harm. Laws related to rape are recently changed and amended and now are very strict for accused we know this has a loophole but they should be same at this stage where we are fighting a battle against society, where women are not given equal status and opportunity.
When the researcher came in to contact with the lawyer Mr. Ajay Bhadauria who practices criminal cases at Kanpur trial court, He gave me his opinion about these cases and said you have agree on the fact that there are large number of false allegations than true complaint but he also agrees on the another fact which says that there are even more number cases which are not even reported. So where we actually need to work is on our police station and the HR department within the purview of office and employing a good proportion of female employee as well as the head of HR department should be a woman so that victim should not feel shy or any hesitation in telling about the crime happened to her. And their need to be a work done in this sector of women at the same time researcher admires the work until done in favor of women. And it is been very well said that -:
Men and boys, we show our manhood through the way we treat our women. Our colleagues, our wives, our sisters, our mothers.
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Edited by Hariharan Kumar