M A I N   N E W S

A Tribune Special
Lieut-Col held blameworthy
Molestation of lady officer
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
The court of inquiry (CoI) investigating alleged molestation of a lady officer at the hands of her superior in Nagrota, near Jammu, has held the accused officer blameworthy on several counts and has recommended that action be initiated against him, it is learnt.

The findings of the CoI, which have been forwarded to Headquarters Northern Command, are expected to be put up before the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief tomorrow.

According to sources, the Deputy Judge Advocate-General, Northern Command, Brig C.S. Nair, in his remarks on the CoI, has recommended that administrative action be taken against the accused officer, Lt-Col Virender Mohan. The CoI mentions five counts of misconduct.

There are instances where officers accused of molestation, sexual harassment or similar charges have been tried by a general court martial, though in some cases officers have bee acquitted as charges were found to be baseless.

It may be recalled that in a written complaint sent to the General Officer Commanding 16 Corps last month, a lady officer posted in Nagrota had accused her superior posted in the same branch of molesting and harassing her. She had even been admitted to the Military Hospital in Jammu for treatment for anxiety and stress, which is believed to be the outcome of the situation she was facing.

The Army thereafter initiated a court of inquiry, presided over by the Deputy Director Ordnance Services, 16 Corps, Brig S.B.S Choudhary, to ascertain the facts of the case.

Witnesses examined by the CoI included the complainant herself, a psychiatrist posted at the Military Hospital who had examined and treated the complainant, a lady officer into whom the complainant had reportedly confided in and who was asked by a senior officer to counsel her and staff of the JAG Branch at 16 Corps.

A senior officer in Western Command revealed that as per provisions of a circular (54245/AG/DV-1 (P)) dealing with discipline of lady officers, sexual harassment constitute unwelcome sexually determined behaviour such as physical contact or advances, passing coloured remarks, showing pornography, demand or request for sexual favours or any other physical, verbal or non-verbal expression of a sexual nature.

The CoI is also understood to have referred to court judgments on sexual harassment cases to study the legal implications of the case. Among them was the order passed by the Supreme Court in the case of R. Vishakha versus the Union of India.





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