Appalled at the National Commission for Women (NCW) for denying human rights to their ex-contractual research assistant who was allegedly sexually harassed by its Deputy Secretary, the Central Information Commission has directed NCW to pay Rs. 50,000 compensation to the woman in 15 days, while also slapping Rs. 25,000 cost on the accused and the ex-CPIO for denying her the information sought under RTI Act for over a year.
The CIC said allegations of sexual harassment against an important officer of NCW should have been in the knowledge of the Chairperson and directed her to produce the file relating to the accused officer, NCW Deputy Secretary, before the victim complainant, who claims she was thrown out of the job for raising her voice against harassment.
In this case, the service file of the accused was withheld from the complainant on the ground that the same is under process of the Chairperson.
“The allegation of sexual harassment against one of the important officer in NCW is a serious issue, which should have been in the knowledge of the Chairperson. It is not proper on the part of public authority to withhold some of the files on this excuse, which amounts to non-compliance of the order of the CIC and attracts penal proceedings under Section 20 of the RTI Act.
“The Commission directs Hon’ble Chairperson Mrs. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, instruct the CPIO to produce the files relating to Mr V.V.B. Raju first for inspection of the appellant (complainant), and then produce before the Commission on 28.8.2017.
“A human rights organization like NCW, which was created by law to protect the rights of women, has sadly denied the human right, i.e., right to information. The group of authorities was unfortunately united to deny this right,” the CIC said.
“She was denied information for more than six months. Till today, complete information was not given. It is difficult to calculate exact loss she suffered at the hands of various officers. Hence, the Commission awards a token compensation of Rs. 50,000 and directs the public authority to pay Rs. 50,000 to the appellant-victim within 15 days,” CIC M. Sridhar Acharyulu ordered.
The CIC also slapped a fine of Rs. 25,000 each on the ex-CPIO, NCW, now SO, NITI Aayog, and the Deputy Secretary, NCW, to be paid by in five equal monthly installments and to be recovered from their salaries for denying information under the RTI Act.
The CIC was disquieted with the fact that despite its June 16 order, the NCW had not provided access to complete information sought by the woman who was allegedly harassed sexually and otherwise by the deputy secretary and then thrown out of the job.
While some information was shared with her on the CIC’s directions, her performance file, which she wanted to check if there was any complaints against her performance, as claimed by the deputy secretary, based on which her services were discontinued, was not shown to her.
Another file pertaining to service details of accused was not shown on the ground that the same was under the process before Chairperson.
“This shows still the office is not willing to give access to information, which might help appellant to prove her allegations, which means the office is trying to shield the accused,” the CIC said.