Today: Jun 19, 2024

HC quashes FIR in a case of sexual harassment of woman IAF pilot after settlement between parties

2 mins read

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has quashed an FIR after a settlement between the parties in a case of sexual harassment of a woman pilot of the Indian Air Force (IAF) by her male wing commander a few years ago.

An FIR No. 0036/2021 dated 11.02.2021 had been registered with the Police Station Satwari, Jammu, for the commission of an offence under section 354-A IPC against the wing commander for sexually harassing his female colleague.

The matter wherein the lady pilot complained that her wing commander sexually harassed her had also reached the J&K High Court which issued a notice in April 2021 to the Union Ministry of Defence and Air Force officials.

The lady also alleged that an unfair inquiry had been conducted by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the IAF on the issue. The court had furthermore stayed the proceedings before the ICC.

After wrangling for more than two years, a resolution was induced and the court accordingly disposed of the matter.

The Coram consisting of Justice Rajnesh Oswal noted that continuing with the investigation under the FIR registered under Section 354A of IPC (sexual harassment) would be futile after the mutual settlement between parties.

Disposing of the case, Justice Oswal ordered “in view of the above, FIR … registered with the Police Station Satwari for the commission of an offence under Section 354-A IPC, is quashed. The contesting parties shall not publicise the matter and the controversy, which has now been settled between the parties in any manner, whatsoever”.

In her petition, the lady Officer X alleged “not only did the accused officer pass objectionable comments against her, but he also repeatedly demanded sexual favours from the woman officer and touched her inappropriately.”

The petition said, “he touched her on her shoulder from behind and made lewd remarks with lustful eyes and demeanour.”

It further read “the petitioner didn’t feel comfortable but didn’t know how to react as she had not expected this response. The said touch was unwelcome and extremely unsolicited and was an assault on the dignity of the complainant being a lady officer.”

The petitioner also raised objection to the way the ICC of the Armed Forces conducted its inquiry as per the Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act).

The wing commander later filed a petition in the court and prayed that the FIR section 354-A IPC, at the instance of the respondent lady pilot, be quashed.

The court recorded that during the pendency of the petition, both the contesting parties have entered into a compromise. It noted the wing commander has “issued a communication to the lady officer which was accepted by her and that has further stated that she has no objection, if the FIR impugned is quashed by this court.”

The commander has also stated that he will remain bound by the communication and the dispute between the contesting parties has been settled. He further stated that the matter will never be exposed or put on social media by him.

In view of the settlement arrived at between the parties, the court was “of the considered view that continuation of investigation in the impugned FIR shall not serve any purpose and rather would be an exercise in futility.”

It accordingly directed J&K Police to quash the FIR against the senior male officer, identified as Y in the judgment passed by the High Court.