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The Madras High Court on Wednesday transferred to Telangana, a sexual harassment complaint lodged by a senior woman police officer against her superior officer of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC).

A bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and C V Karthikeyan passed the interim order on the appeals filed by Dr S Murugan, Joint Director, DVAC, Chennai against the order passed by a single judge on February 14, 2019.

The transfer followed the complainant alleging that the accused officer was influencing the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the department. The survivor, a Tamil Nadu woman Superintendent of Police, had in August 2018 accused S Murugan IPS, the then Joint Director in the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), of sexually harassing her. It was after she filed a complaint that the Tamil Nadu police set up an Internal Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Vishakha guidelines under the leadership of Lakshmi Prasad, a DGP-level officer. In its order on Wednesday, the Madras HC stated that the complainant had also expressed doubt over getting justice since the Chairperson of the Committee had allegedly called her over phone and urged her to ‘treat the incident as an accident and to forget it’.

“It was alleged that the Chairperson is shielding the accused along with the law officers of the State. The learned counsel submitted that corruption cases against the Hon’ble Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister, Thiru S.P. Velumani, Hon’ble Minister and Thiru. Natham Viswanathan, former Minister, are now pending before the accused and as such, the complainant would not get justice,” the order stated adding that therefore the complainant sought the court to monitor the probe or transfer it to Kerala police. While Murugan objected stating that there were no substantial reasons to transfer the case out of Tamil Nadu, the Advocate General of Tamil Nadu objected to the transfer claiming that the image of the state would be adversely affected because of this.

However, the high court bench consisting of Justice Vineet Kothari and Justice CV Karthikeyan stood their ground and stated that it was necessary to transfer the case to a neighbouring state to ensure a ‘fair, independent and unbiased investigation into the matter’.

The direction to transfer a case that is in the investigation stage has raised eyebrows across the state since it is quite rare that a case, confined to Tamil Nadu, is being shifted to another state.

—India Legal Bureau

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