Does the High Court have the jurisdiction to transfer the proceedings for enquiry into the complaint of sexual harassment and investigation in FIR to another state? A division bench comprising of Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Subhash Reddy issued a notice in special leave petition filed against a Madras High Court.
A lady police officer (Superintendent of Police) had filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Dr.S.Murugan who is Joint Director, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption.
A writ petition was filed in High Court in this regard, High Court invoking its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the constitution observed that it is required to shift the undertaking of the Internal Complaints Committee under the provisions of the Act as well as the investigation into the FIR filed by the complainant to neighboring State to ensure fair, independent, and unbiased investigation into the matter of serious allegations of sexual harassment by one senior officer of Police Department against another senior officer of the same department.
The respondent, State, and Dr. S.Murugan have opposed the transfer here is no sound legal basis to transfer the proceedings under the Act from one State to another, more so, when the Act does not contemplate to do so.
The bench further directed that all the proceedings of enquiry into the complaint of sexual harassment as aforementioned shall stand transferred to the State of Telangana at Hyderabad.
High Court further observed that “We are conscious of the fact that the enquiry and investigation out of a State are not envisaged under the provisions of the Act. But, looking to the nature of positions of both the parties, the complainant as well as the appellant, both belonging to Police Department of the State of Tamil Nadu and the nature of allegations, sought impleadment of parties including Chief Minister etc., the spree of litigation which has ensued between the parties on account of the allegations of sexual harassment, we are inclined to ensure complete fairness and independence in the internal enquiry under the Act of 2013 as well as the investigation in the FIR."
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