The circumstances took a major turn in the recent death of a law intern in Bangalore after The News Minute report revealed that the victim was prevented from filing the sexual harassment complaint.
As per the report, a Bangalore-based lawyer – an acquaintance of the two lawyers accused of sexually harassing the intern – had made repeated phone calls to the victim, persuading her not to approach the police.
The phone call was allegedly made on November 19, 2018, a day before the victim filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Chandra Naik and Chetan Desai at the Commercial Street Police Station on November 20, 2018. The victim was found dead on November 24, 2018, in her PG accommodation at Malleswaram.
A 2-minute clip of the phone recording posted by the News Minute reveals that the victim was not willing to withdraw the sexual harassment complaint, to persuade her a lawyer Kirti (name changed) had called the victim on the day she was returning to Bangalore. Kirti can be heard saying on the audio clip, “Today, we’ll just meet up when you come back. By 4:30-5 if you reach Bangalore, you just give me a ring.”
Kirti said to the victim that we “just have a discussion” and that another lawyer ‘Gowda’ will also come to discuss the issue.
“We’ll just meet up and discuss. What I am saying is, there is no point discussing after going to the station at all,” Kirti added, when the victim told her that she was planning to meet the Deputy Commissioner. “My only intention is, and the reason why I am calling you repeatedly is because somehow you compromise in this matter,” Kirti said.
Kirti goes on to state that, “If this issue becomes serious, if you give the complaint, criminal action will be taken against Naik and Chetan. The issue will be known by all the advocates…Once the FIR is registered, they will arrest Naik and Chetan…”
Further, Kirti tried to warn the victim that once the issue is known to local advocates, they will not let her practice in Bangalore. To which the victim replies that, “If at all they do all this, I’ll see to it that I practice in Bangalore. How will they stop me? I’ll see to it.”
The defiant victim goes on to say that, “When I am saying no, how can he say that consent was there? Who is he to tell my consent to everyone? Let them arrest whomever they want. And I have taken this matter very seriously.”
The report further reveals that Chandra Naik and Chetan Desai had contacted victim’s parents in Andaman and asked them to come down to Bengaluru and settle the matter outside the court. However, before the meeting could take place, the victim was found dead in her PG. Victim’s brother Sunil and father Tulasi arrived in Bengaluru on November 25, 2018, and cleared her belongings from her room before returning to Andaman the next day.
“The parents are not too keen on following up on the investigation. It is possible that the lawyers will persuade victim’s parents to settle the matter with some compensation but so far nothing has happened,” a police source said.
The local police are yet to establish whether the death is a murder or suicide. The post-mortem report will reach the police in a couple of days.
The intern, who hailed from Andaman & Nicobar Islands, had come to Bangalore in 2017 and enrolled as an intern with Jayanth M Puttanshetti and Associates.
At the firm, she was assigned to work with an advocate named Chandra Naik, who introduced her to another advocate, Chetan Desai, a pleader at the Karnataka High Court. The victim later filed an FIR against the two lawyers for allegedly sexually harassing her.
As per the FIR, both Naik and Desai “used to take her to pubs and bars and force her to consume alcohol. They would then touch her inappropriately and sexually harass her.”