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Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Nurse to pay Rs 1L for frivolous plea

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has imposed an exemplary fine of Rs1 lakh on a staff nurse for filing a "completely frivolous" petition in an alleged sexual harassment case. The court ordered the drawing and disbursing officer to recover the amount from the petitioner's salary in three instalments.

The nurse, working at an ESIC Model Hospital in Chandigarh, had moved the High Court against the Union of India and other respondents for setting aside the report of an internal complaints committee on her complaint under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

Arguing before Justice Ramendra Jain's Bench through video-conferencing, her counsel contended that three out of five members of the internal complaints committee, who held a detailed inquiry on her complaint of sexual harassment, appeared as defence witnesses and supported the "delinquent doctor". Describing the inquiry report submitted by them as "biased and illegal", her counsel added that the committee of internal inquiry, in connivance with another doctor and the "delinquent doctor", destroyed the CCTV footage of the incident. Her counsel stated that the inquiry was unfair because of non-joining the petitioner in the proceedings.

Appearing for the Union of India and another respondent, senior advocate Satya Pal Jain and Sai Geeta Srivastava submitted that they were not necessary party and had been illegally impleaded.

Justice Jain asserted that the court found the instant petition to be "completely frivolous to blackmail the system and superiors under whom the petitioner works".

Out of the five members of the internal complaints committee, two were doctors and one was from the deputy nursing staff. Another one was an advocate with a degree of doctorate.

The petitioner's grouse that the impugned report was biased as three of its members appeared in defence was completely baseless, Justice Jain added. Their statements recorded during inquiry showed they only brought on record true facts of the alleged incident, which had happened in their presence, Justice Jain said. "Their conduct does not by in itself amount to favouring the alleged delinquent doctor," Justice Jain added.

Each and every aspect of the allegations levelled by the petitioner had been dealt with in detail by the committee without any bias, Justice Jain said.

The petitioner being an arrogant worker wanted to create fear psychosis in the mind of their superiors through the petition, Justice Jain added. It could not be permitted as the report was given by a committee comprising three doctors, two belonging to medical profession and one legal expert, Justice Jain said.

"The instant petition stands dismissed with exemplary costs of Rs1 lakh," Justice Jain concluded.

from The Tribune

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