Single mother working for Maharashtra state services transferred after making sexual harassment complaint against co-worker
Neelam Yuvraj Vani vs. The Industrial Court, Mumbai & Ors, (Writ Petition No. 1940 of 2016) Synopsis: The Petition seeks to assail the order dated 3rd February, 2016 by which the Petitioner was transferred yet again from the Labour Court, Pune to the Industrial Court, Kolhapur which was not made at her request, nor was she informed as to why this was being done, nor was she given an opportunity to be heard before being transferred. Status: The Petition has been admitted and the inquiry into the Petitioner’s complaint of sexual harassment is ongoing. Leave has been granted to approach the court to seek any urgent relief. Description:
- The Petitioner is a single mother who joined the services of the State of Maharashtra as a Grade IV Employee. The Petitioner was appointed on 11th June, 2005 and designated to join as a Sapoy in the Industrial Court in Akola vide appointment letter dated 11th June, 2005.
- Due to personal difficulties faced by the Petitioner and her family after the passing away of her husband, the Petitioner sought a transfer to Pune as she had family that could support her there. The request of the Petitioner was conceded to and she was subsequently transferred to the Labour Court, Pune on 29th May, 2010.
- In the short span of five years thereafter, the Petitioner has been transferred six times;
- From the Labour Court, Pune to the Industrial Court, Jalgaon on 22nd January, 2013 after having served a term of three years and four months.
- From the Industrial Court, Jalgaon to the Labour Court, Thane on 31st May, 2013 after having served a term of four months.
- From the Labour Court, Thane to the Labour Court, Pune on 18th July, 2013 after having served a term of close to two months.
- From the Industrial Court, Pune to the Labour Court, Pune on 23rd November, 2015 after having served a term of two years and four months.
- From the Labour Court, Pune to the Industrial Court, Kolhapur on 3rd February, 2016 after having served a term of 2 months.
- Inquiries made by the Petitioner seemed to indicate that this was being done due to an anonymous complaint alleging personal relationships between the Petitioner and the clerk that she had been assigned to.
- Neither was the Petitioner made party to any investigation on the anonymous complaint nor were any reasons assigned to her transfer.
- Vide her letter dated 21st November, 2015 the Petitioner forwarded her complaint regarding the harassment she had been facing to the Women Sexual Harassment Committee, Industrial Court, Pune, among others.
- However the Petitioner has received no response to the said letter, no inquiry has been instituted by the sexual harassment committee, and if an inquiry has been initiated, the Petitioner has not been provided with the details of the outcome.
- That half the number of transfers which were affected because of the Petitioner’s own request and the remaining transfers were made because of the confidential communication of the President, Industrial Court, Mumbai had received from time to time from ‘the concerned judges’.
- Since the transfers were made on the basis of confidential communications the question of informing the Petitioner did not arise.
- That the transfer is on administrative grounds to safeguard the interests of the Petitioner and that of the Judges
- That as regards the one of the complaints made by the Petitioner, the same was sent for inquiry by the Industries, Energy & Labour Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai. After preliminary inquiry by Smt. S.V. Suvarna, Member, Industrial Court, Thane, a confidential report has been sent to the Secretary, Industries, Energy & Labour Department, Mantralaya informing that there is no substance in the complaint dated 311.2013.
- That the Respondents are not aware if the Sexual Harassment Committee has initiated any inquiry as far as the complaint of the Petitioner is concerned.
- That the Respondents have failed to abide by the “Gender Sensitization and Sexual Harassment of Women at the District Courts in the State of Maharashtra and Goa (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulations, 2014.
- That a committee ought to be constituted in terms of the said Regulations.
- That within a period of four weeks would be made functional and the Petitioner’s complaint shall be made over to the said committee. THe Committee will take the requisite actions in accordance with the Regulations and law.
- That the Petitioner will not be transferred until further orders from the Court.