The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Telangana government and others on a plea seeking transferring the probe, from state police to the CBI, in the suicide of a woman officer of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) after facing alleged sexual harassment at workplace.
A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said: “Issue notice, returnable within three weeks. Liberty is granted to serve on the standing counsel for the state of Telangana.” The plea was filed by the mother of the 33-year-old victim through advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava.
Srivastava argued that the victim was a bright, young and intelligent finance professional, who joined BHEL in July 2009 and served it till her last breath, October 17, 2019, with utmost dedication. “There was not even an iota of complaint against her work or against her mental behaviour during her long association with BHEL. However, she was sexually harassed, molested, stalked, mentally tortured and attempted to be raped by her own supervisor and by her own office colleagues at BHEL, Hyderabad, which forced her to ultimately commit suicide,” the plea said.
The petitioner claimed the police have not yet arrested the accused, and also no charge sheet has been filed for more than 8 months. “The suicide note dated October 16, 2019, of the deceased and her last telephonic conversation (on the same day) with her sister, categorically establish that her own supervisor and office colleagues subjected her to an extreme level of sexual, physical and mental harassment and attempted to rape her, due to which she was forced to commit suicide,” contended Srivastava.
The plea contended that the main accused is a native of Telangana, whereas the deceased was a ‘Hindi-speaking outsider’, belonging to Bhopal. “Hence, there is a strong apprehension in the mind of the petitioner that the Telangana Police have a strong linguistic and regional bias in favour of the accused and against the deceased,” said the plea.
The petitioner’s counsel urged the apex court to direct BHEL to “initiate appropriate enquiry under applicable departmental rules and also under the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, against the accused persons, with respect to the sad and unfortunate death of the Petitioner’s daughter, in a time bound manner and under supervision of this court.”
“There is another shocking attempt of Telangana Police to blame the unfortunate suicide of deceased to her alleged mental illness despite the fact that her employer BHEL has categorically deposed that no sign of any mental illness was shown by her at her workplace,” the plea alleged.