SC Notice to RAW Secretary in Former Officer's Sexual Harassment Case
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur agreed to examine the appeal filed by former RAW officer Nisha Priya Bhatia, and sought a reply from the secretary of the intelligence agency. The response comes ten years after Bhatia initially complained of sexual harassment.
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New Delhi: Giving fresh lease of life to a ten-year-old sexual harassment complaint by a former RAW woman officer, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and sought a response over prosecution of her complaint.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur agreed to examine the appeal filed by former RAW officer Nisha Priya Bhatia, and sought a reply from the secretary of the agency.
"Issue notice only to the Secretary (R), Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), Room No.7, Bikaner House Annexe, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi," stated the Court order issued last week.
With the issuance of the notice by the top court, Bhatia, who was compulsorily retired from service in 2009, has succeeded in keeping alive her charges of sexual harassment by fellow officers in the RAW.
Secretary, RAW, is expected to respond on the issue of sanctions to prosecute the officers, as sought by Bhatia. The case will be heard next on July 6.
She had appealed against the 2015 order by the Delhi High Court, which has shot down her plea to prosecute criminal complaint against the officers who, she alleged, made a false inquiry report on her sexual harassment charges.
Bhatia had gone to a Delhi trial court for prosecution of the officers of the RAW's Sexual Harassment Committee, which had in 2008 debunked her allegations of sexual harassment. The Committee had concluded that it could find "no proof" to substantiate Bhatia's complaints.
In her 2009 complaint before the trial court, she sought issuance of the summons to the RAW officers, comprising the Committee, under Section 167 of the IPC. Section 167 makes it punishable for a public servant to frame incorrect records with an intent to cause injury to someone.
Bhatia contended that the documents submitted by her were not considered and that the report was prepared falsely and in connivance and collusion with two senior officers.
The trial court, by an order in April 2015, refused to issue summons on the ground that Bhatia has failed to get sanction to prosecute the RAW officers.
This order was subsequently upheld by the sessions court and the Delhi High Court.
Aggrieved, Bhatia moved the top court, arguing that she had applied for the requisite sanction in February 2010 itself and under the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, the sanction is assumed to have been granted if not received within three months.
She further stated that criminal misconduct and framing false records cannot be said to be acts committed by the public servant while acting or purported to act in discharge of official duty and thus, there was no need to get a separate sanction to prosecute the RAW officers.
Bhatia, who was once posted at the agency's high-security training institute in Gurgaon, has been leading a spate of battle with RAW, including her service cases.
By a press release in 2008, the Centre had declared Bhatia as a person of disturbed mind. But the Government was compelled to withdraw this press note on an intervention by the apex court.
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