CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of the recent sexual harassment complaint made against a top police officer by a woman IPS officer.
Though the case was widely reported and even a government order named the accused senior police officer, the high court's order restrained Press and media from naming him. It warned of contempt action if the accused or the complainant are named.
The court said it would monitor the investigations being carried out by the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID). The wing has registered an FIR in the case. The state government had also ordered a probe by a committee headed by a senior IAS officer.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh in his order noted that "Considering the sensitivity of the issue and the ensuing elections... No statements must be given by such parties in the media, touching upon the merits of this case."
The court also emphasised, "The name of the victim officer, the accused person and the witnesses shall not be used or exchanged through any media, pending investigation in this case. Any violation of these directions will be viewed very seriously, and this court may be forced to initiate contempt proceedings."
The judge observed that if an officer, due to the power he enjoys, thinks that he can get over with his power and connections from any such act, this court won't be a mute spectator and will step in to ensure that the rule of law is preserved.
Expressing its disappointment and "deeply saddened" by the incident, Anand Venkatesh said, "There is a faulty gene in men which sometimes makes them think that a woman is subordinate to them and that at times she can even be treated as a chattel. History, time and again shows that it is after a very long struggle, and only in the last 25 years that women have somehow managed to get to top levels at workplaces including public service. That by itself does not place them at a secure position since they are not seen in their stature as an officer or professional but continue to be seen merely with patriarchal eyes."
The judge said that whosoever may be the person involved and whatever position he holds should never come in the way of the law taking its own course, more particularly when it comes to cases of sexual harassment.
The judge directed the registry to place the order before the Chief Justice and obtain necessary orders and directions to list the matter and to proceed further with the same.