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Atul Patankar

Sexual harassment is a human rights violation: CIC

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Atul Patankar

As reported at www.hindu.com on 07 April 2009



New Delhi (PTI): Sexual harassment amounts to human rights violation and no organisation, including RAW, should be exempted from the purview of RTI Act in such cases, the CIC has said.


While hearing the plea of a women RAW officer, the Central Information Commission held, "... this entire application centres on allegations of sexual harassment which is a material basis for allegations of human rights violation. We have also on earlier occasion also held that overt gender discrimination amounts to violation of human rights."


Although the commission dismissed the plea of Nisha Priya Bhatia, a RAW officer who had demanded information under RTI Act on her complaint regarding allegations of sexual exploitation by seniors on technical grounds, it advised her to move a fresh application seeking information which was denied by the agency.

"It will be open to Nisha Bhatia to move a fresh application before the RAW seeking information on the matters which she has now sought at the level of second appeal. Her right to so move an application notwithstanding the listing of RAW in the second schedule is upheld in light of proviso to sec 24 (1)..." Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah held.


Source: The Hindu News Update Service

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As reported in news.outlookindia.com on 08 January 2010:

news.outlookindia.com | Give Sexual Harassment Probe Report to the Victim: CIC to RAW


Give Sexual Harassment Probe Report to the Victim: CIC to RAW


The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up the country's external intelligence agency RAW for not providing the report of a "complaint committee" to one of its officials after it probed her sexual harassment allegations against her bosses.


The CIC also rapped the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for issuing a defamatory official press note attacking the "very character of the alleged victim."


A division bench of the Central Information Commission comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Information Commissioner Deepak Sandhu directed the RAW to provide findings of the "complaint committee" investigating its own official Nisha Priya Bhatia's allegations.


The case shot to limelight after Bhatia had allegedly attempted suicide before Prime Minister's Office on August 19, 2008.


Bhatia had sought details about the committee like how it was constituted and reports besides other details about the initial inquiry to look into her allegations. The information was denied by the RAW citing exemption clauses of RTI Act.


Directing the agency to disclose the report within 10 days of receipt of this decision, the bench said it could not find any names, other than those of parties and members in the inquiry report, which could invite exemption clauses of the transparency law.


The transparency panel also came down heavily on the snooping agency for issuing "scurrilous" press release "attacking the very character of the alleged victim".


After Nisha's alleged suicide attempt, RAW had issued a "Press Note" which was later released by Press Information Bureau on August 19, 2008, stating she was advised medical counselling. The press release also contained several other information about the case.


The Commission observed that it was not a press release by Press Note, which means that PIB cannot make any changes in the text of the note received from the issuing department, but simply releases it to media as it is received.


"Although the Committee was purportedly set up to examine a complaint of sexual harassment, the public authority has chosen to go public with what, if not substantiated, can best be described as a scurrilous Press Release attacking the very character of the alleged victim, in investigation of whose complaint the Committee was supposedly set up," it said.


The Commission said the information officer has accepted that there is "no documentary support" to the allegation in the Press Release about she being "advised to go for Medical counselling, which she refused."


"The Press note represents a clearly misleading construction on the complaint committee findings, although to be fair, it might seek to give that impression in what appears to have been an effort to besmirch the character of senior functionary of its own hardly in keeping with the need for discretion in an organisation (exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act)," the bench said, directing to provide the same.

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As reported by PTI in dnaindia.com on 18 January 2010:

SC dismisses woman RAW officer's sexual harassment complaint - dnaindia.com


SC dismisses woman RAW officer's sexual harassment complaint


New Delhi: The Supreme Court has dismissed the petition filed by a senior woman officer of the country's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing who had alleged sexual harassment by her superior officers.


"We have gone through the petition as also the documents filed and find that the allegations made by the petitioner (Nisha Priya Bhatia) have been inquired into by several independent bodies including a committee headed byRenuka Viswanathan and supervised by the cabinet secretary and that no merit has been found in the allegations levelled by her.


"The record further shows that the allegations made by the petitioner have at one time or the other been examined by the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women and they too had not granted her any relief," the apex court said in a judgement.


The bench of justices HS Bedi and JM Panchal said it did not pass the judgement in the presence of Nisha as she was "surcharged" and "emotionally disturbed".


The Central Information Commission (CIC) has pulled up RAW for not providing Nisha the report of a "complaint committee" to one of its officials after it probed her sexual harassment allegations against her bosses.

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Please also read the attached decision o the CIC related to the same matter but in this case to the SSB.


Wonder why the IC did not bring in the "Human Rights" angle to the whole issue, specially since SSB is exempt under Sec 24.


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