Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on September 16, 2019, in the case of Global Health Private Limited v. Local Complaints Committee, District Indore and others
holding Medanta Hospital, Indore guilty in the sexual harassment case that took place about three years ago in the hospital has asked it to pay compensation of Rs 25 lakh to a former female employee within eight weeks.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Rohit Arya
passed the order while hearing an appeal filed by Global Health Private Limited which operates Medanta Super Specialty Hospital. The appeal was filed against the order of district complaints committee, Indore that had imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 and proposed criminal action for defamation against the hospital. In this case, the woman, who was the senior manager at the hospital, had complained to the hospital management about three years ago that Dr. Gavrinath Mandiga, the hospital superintendent, sexually harassed her. When the complaint was not processed, the woman complained to the hospital MD via e-mail. Despite this, no action was taken. Inversely, the hospital management issued the order on April 19, 2016, and fired the woman from her job.
As there was no internal complaints committee in the hospital, the woman complained to the Women Welfare Section of Women and Child Development Ministry on March 18, 2016. Subsequently, her complaint was forwarded to the Chief Executive Officer, District Indore and the same was made over to the Local Committee for enquiry. Local complaints committee recorded the statement of the woman on July 3, 2016, and passed an order against the hospital on August 18, 2017. The Committee reached a conclusion that the complainant was subjected to sexual harassment as defined under Section 2(n)
read with Section 3(2)
of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
On enquiry, the Committee also found out that the internal complaints committee was not in existence at the Hospital. The hospital management filed a petition in the High Court challenging the order of the Committee. Learned Counsel Rahul Sethi, appearing for the woman, submitted before the court that a sexual harassment committee should be constituted legally in every institution, but there was no committee in the hospital. Despite constant complaints, the management did not take any action against the culprit, instead the woman was fired. Due to the attitude of the hospital management, the woman had to suffer mental anguish. Her social reputation was also hurt. She also suffered financial losses due to her removal from the job by the hospital management. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case, the court concluded that “the complainant is held to have been subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment at workplace within the meaning of section 2(n) read with section 3(2)(ii), (iii), (iv) & (v) of the Act, 2013.”
Accordingly, the court ordered the hospital management to pay Rs 25 lakh to the woman within eight weeks. The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 50,000 on the hospital for failing to constitute internal complaints committee for workplace harassment as per law and asked the hospital to issue character and experience certificates to the complainant for the period she was employed. The court also asked the hospital to pay other benefits like EPF and other monetary dues, if not paid. The court, however quashed the committee’s order of proposed criminal action for defamation under Sections 499
of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
, against the petitioners. [Read Order]