Madras High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of the reported sexual harassment of a woman IPS officer by former Special Director-General of Police (Law and Order) Rajesh Das. Justice Anand Venkatesh expressed disbelief that a woman police officer was meted out such a treatment. The judge said he will monitor the probe against the accused.
Meanwhile, the Crime Branch CID (CBCID) booked Das under four sections, including Section 354 (outraging the modesty of woman) of the IPC and Sections 3 (prohibition of harassment of woman) and 4 (penalty for harassment of woman) of the TN Prevention of Women Harassment Act.
ADSP Gomathi has been appointed as the investigation officer. The FIR also mentions Chengalpattu supereintendent of police D Kannan who stopped the IPS officer on her way to Chennai, allegedly on the orders of Das. The CB-CID registered the case a day after Tamil Nadu DGP JK Tripathy issued an order directing the department to investigate the matter.
The woman IPS officer has accused the DGP of sexual harassment and misbehaviour, which allegedly took place during chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s recent tour of central districts. Sources indicated that attempts were made by fellow officers to dissuade the woman from filing a complaint. The alleged incident occurred on 21 February night enroute to Chennai from Trichi. On 22 February in the afternoon the complainant reached Chennai and filed a complaint with DGP JK Tripathy and the Home department. Two days later, the state government removed Das from the post of Special DGP (Law and Order) and put him on “compulsory wait”.
The same day, the home department set up a six-member committee to probe the allegations. Only after the constitution of the committee the incident came to light. Also a tweet by DMK MP Kanimozhi regarding the incident brought it outside and led to formation of an inquiry committee.
Kanimozhi had taken to Twitter to criticise the government for dragging its feet and not acting on the officer’s complaint. “The protector also needs protection during the AIADMK rule. When a woman IPS officer is sexually harassed by a higher-ranked officer and the CM takes no notice of it, what hope do ‘ordinary’ women have in this regime?” she had tweeted.
The six-member committee constituted by the home department is headed by additional chief secretary (planning and development) Jayashree Raghunandan to look into the complaint made against Das.
Seema Agarwal (additional DGP), A Arun (IGP), Shamoondeswari (deputy IG), VK Ramesh Babu (chief administrative officer at DGP office) and Loretta Jhona, part of the International Justice Mission, are other members of the panel.
The Tamil Nadu IPS Association had issued a statement in solidarity with the woman officer after she had filed the complaint.