A very shocking incident came to the attention of Hon’ble Madras High Court which may impact the women officers belonging to the Tamil Nadu Police Force. Considering the gravity of the incident that had taken place and after taking into consideration the fear and panic created by the situation, the Court decided to take suo moto cognizance of alleged sexual harassment of a Indian Police Service (hereinafter referred to as “IPS”) cadre woman officer by her senior.
After going through the records, it was seen that the victim who belonged to the IPS cadre had made a complaint to the Director General of Police, Chennai (hereinafter referred to as “DGP, Chennai”). During her travel she began receiving phone calls from the Special DGP and many other police officers which she decided not to attend. Thereafter, the official car in which the victim officer was travelling was stopped at Paranur toll gate by a large group of police officers headed by a Superintendent, Inspector and Sub-Inspector of Police.
From the complaint, it was seen that the victim officer had reported for bandobast duty at Karur District, in view of the visit of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. It is from there, that the Special DGP directed the victim officer to accompany him in his vehicle, and she was told that she will be dropped at Perambalur. It is during this travel time, the Special DGP is said to have indulged in sexual harassment of the lady officer. The complaint stated that the officer was trying her best to wriggle out of the situation.
It can also be seen from the records that an FIR came to be registered by the CBCID- North, Villuppuram on 27.02.2021 in Crime No. 01 of 2021 for offences under Sections 354A(2), 341, 506(1) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act, 1998. In the said FIR, the Special DGP and Superintendent of Police, Chengalpet District were the accused persons.
In view of the aforesaid, the Court was required to step into monitor the investigation thereby, ensuring that the fundamental rights of the victim to a free and fair investigation is not reduced to an empty ritual.
Considering the sensitivity of the issue and ensuing elections that are going to take place in the State, the court observed that there is a high possibility of politicising this issue. This had to be prevented without any further delay. That apart, exchanging the name of the victim officer through media and other social media networks, can also have a very serious impact on the investigation. In view of the same, the Court put certain restrictions in order to ensure that there is a fair investigation.
Coram: Justice N. Anand Venkatesh