CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Vice President Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal accused chief minister Amarinder Singh of displaying a "frivolous" attitude in addressing the sexual harassment complaint lodged by a senior woman IAS officer against a cabinet minister in Punjab government.
Dubbing the sexual harassment of the lady officer as "harrowing", Mr Grewal said today that the cabinet minister should be immediately sacked.
Mr Grewal regretted that "what is the safety of women employees in the state if the Chief Minister tries to condescendingly rub it aside by making a statement from his vacation that "its been resolved."
Alleging that if a senior IAS officer is bearing the brunt of sexual advances and inappropriate behaviour by ministers, what must be the plight of junior level women employees. Many victims do not have the confidence and feel socially stigmatized to complain about such incidents, said Mr Grewal.
He further said, incidentally this is the first "MeToo" case where the lady officer has formally lodged a complaint against sexual harassment but chief minister has the audaciously brushed it aside stating that the Minister has apologised.
"We raise a strong objection that the CM cannot decide that a mere apology is sufficient," stressed Mr Grewal. Captain Amarinder Singh as head of the government should set an example that women workforce is provided with a safe work environment.
Extending of mere apologies by the minister does not do justice to the trauma and harassment suffered by the officer. Mr Grewal alleged this is not the first time that acquisitions against this minister are levelled.
He said that a case should be registered under section 354 IPC, which covers the grave offence of sexual harassment. Reasoning that a cabinet minister is a public figure and his behaviour has to be exemplary.
On the contrary, the victimized lady officer had to convey her plight by writing to CM as well as Congress party President Rahul Gandhi but both have evaded addressing this "sexual harassment" issue. He said the Congress Party had a mindset of ignoring women rights and was parochial in its vision." We demand immediate dismissal of the minister," Mr Grewal said.
He further said that the central government has set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into sexual harassment cases reported at the workplace and mulls to revamp The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
Whereas chief minister Amarinder Singh makes a "mockery" of such a grave issue which concerns safety of women at the workplace.
Mr Grewal further reiterated that SAD will pursue this serious issue till justice is dispensed and sexual harassment is not treated "frivolously" by the state government.