While several women have come out in the past week against their sexual harassers, bringing a wave of #MeToo accusations and allegations in India, two women have filed a case against the National Commission of Women for allegedly 'firing' them after they reported sexual harassment within the organisation.
Two former employees of NCW have moved Delhi High Court after the organisation failed to renew their employment contracts after they accused a senior of sexual harassment. According to a report in Huffington Post, in 2016, the women had complained of 'persistent sexual harassment' by the then NCW deputy secretary VVB Raju.
According to the petitioners, the senior management at NCW refused to take any action and in fact, even indulged in acts that led to the 'perpetuation of the harassment'. According to the petition filed in Delhi HC, the then chairperson of NCW, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, ignored the complaints and instead, asked one of the complainants to perform better at her job in order to continue in her position.
One of the complainants had previously lodged an RTI with NCW, seeking information on the termination of her job. However, she got no response. In fact, in September, the Central Information Commission pulled up NCW and asked the member secretary, Satbir Bedi, to look into the 'anti-RTI' attitude of the institution.
Accused VVB Raju, who is the head of administration of the Union government's flagship Atal Innovation Mission at the NITI Aayog, denied the charges. Responding to the petition, Raju said the accusations were a 'ruse' to harass and defame both him and NCW in retaliation to the complainant's job loss. NCW, which is facing the twin charges of shielding a sexual harasser and also of failing to prevent alleged harassment of contractual employees, refused to comment on the matter as the case is currently sub-judice.
While the accusations against Raju are not fresh, the petition against him and NCW comes amid a slew of allegations that have seared through the media and entertainment industry in India in the past week. Scores of women came out with accusations against men in powerful positions in the country, including senior journalists and editors from across the media spectrum.