HC orders panel to probe MK Singh’s case afresh
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday quashed the clean- chit issued by second Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) probing the sexual harassment case against MK Singh, the chairman and managing director of Bridge & Roof Co. (India) Ltd.
The court has ordered for the formation of a new committee to carry-out an ‘impartial enquiry’ in the case. Millennium Post, on October 31, 2013, had first reported about MK Singh’s sexual harassment case in the story titled ‘Govt official facing sexual harassment charges gets six-month extension!’
Singh was reappointed as CMD of Bridge & Roof Co Ltd under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprise, by the Government of India in an order issued on June 5, 2015. Prior to this when he was given this charge on September 2, 2013, he ordered that the ICC to be reconstituted on September 13, 2013 with Namrata Mehta as its presiding officer.
The court noted that the first ICC headed by Linda Alen in “its preliminary investigation found that there was prime facie case made out of towards sexual harassment at workplace against Singh”. The final conclusion of this committee was that Singh “was guilty of committing sexual harassment and he should be punished under the provisions of the law”. The court also noted that “it appears that no action was taken on the final report submitted by Linda Alen, Chairperson of the committee.” After this the findings recorded by the first committee were superseded or reviewed by the second committee. The first ICC’s report could not be sustained as “the original record pertaining to the said proceedings was not made available to the court.” Also the details related to when the final findings were recorded were not clear.
During the second ICC, the complainant’s case was taken up and it was noted that no previous records of the previous meetings were available. The second ICC came to the conclusion that report of the first ICC “suffered from deformity”. The new committee in its “proceedings conducted on November 23, 2013 took no time to exonerate MK Singh of all serious charges.”
The court said in its judgment that the second ICC findings “are unsustainable as there was element of bias and conflict of interest.” It also found Singh “ instrumental in selecting members of the committee of his choice to get a favorable report.” “Composition of the second committee was thus vitiated and flawed” and “no sanctity can be attached to the second ICC’s proceedings which gave Singh a clean chit.”
This new committee “shall start its proceedings within ten days and shall submit its report in a time frame as prescribed under the act. MK Singh shall not intervene in the proceedings conducted by the committee in any manner and shall disassociate himself from any decision pertaining to the committee,” said the court.
Meanwhile Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary, MP Lok Sabha and president West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee, in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha on October 30, 2015 raised the issue of suppression of facts by Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) in Singh’s case. Chowdhary in the letter details on how Calcutta High Court judgment dated June 18, 2014 had highlighted that “the question of quashing of proceedings for the offences under section 354 / 509 IPC does not arise” which has repeatedly been suppressed by DHI. The ACR of Singh for 2011-12 was suppressed initially by DHI and subsequently tampered by removing comments of Mukesh Jha, who as holding the office till 11 July 2013, he said in the letter.