Commission chairperson advises victims to take complaints first to TVF, which, she says, must conduct an internal inquiry
Maharashtra State Women's Commission chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar has been following the reports about the TVF sexual harassment case with interest.
The company has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment against CEO Arunabh Kumar. An anonymous post on social media on Sunday kicked up a storm, with other women coming forward and saying they too were targeted by Kumar.
The Bandra-based organisation chief said, "I would stress that the first step (for the victims) is to file a complaint with the company, which should conduct an internal inquiry. A company with more than 10 women employees is mandated to have what we call an internal complaints committee following the Vishakha Guidelines, a set of procedural guidelines in cases of sexual harassment. It is an offence if a company does not have the internal complaints committee."
Rahatkar, however, added that the complainants have the option to approach the MSWC. "Yes, they can approach us, but in normal circumstances, the first step is approaching the internal complaints committee, which needs to start an investigation and submit a report within three months. They can approach us and we will ask the company about these complaints, and if any have been filed, we will ask for the report of these complaints."
When asked what powers the MSWC has, Rahatkar said, "We do have the power to summon the person against whom the complaints have been filed, after we take note of the complaints."
In certain cases, she added, "We can take suo moto (act on our own cognisance) action. Like last year, in the case of actor Salman Khan, who we summoned. This was because his remark about feeling like a raped woman was insulting to women all over and lowered their dignity."
TVF spokesperson Aditi Singh said an internal inquiry has begun. "Our committee is looking into it. Once we have any update on the verdict, we will communicate it to everyone," she said. When asked whether they are approaching the cyber crime police to find out if the claims made on the anonymous blog are true, she added, "As of now, I am not aware of the company approaching the cyber crime police.
We are trying to figure out if the claims are true. If there is any substance to them, we will take necessary action, and if there isn't, then too appropriate action will be taken."