HC notice to Prasar Bharti on sexual harassment

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the centre and the Prasar Bharti on a petition for directions to “stop the sexual harassment and exploitation” of the female radio presenters of the FM Gold channel of All India Radio.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain, seeking response from the ministry of information and broadcasting and the Prasar Bharti CEO on the public interest litigation (PIL), posted the matter for May 15.

Social worker Meera Mishra in her PIL said that she came to know of the sexual harassment of employees of the FM channel through media reports.

All India Radio Broadcasting Professionals Association (AIRBPA) had earlier filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women that they were facing sexual harassment at AIR FM Gold Radio Station.

The PIL mentions this complaint, adding that the AIRBPA plans to file a similar complaint with the National Commission for Women (NCW).

The AIRBPA alleged bias and unprofessional behaviour of the programme executives at the radio station and specifically named the FM Gold director general for attacking the self-respect of women presenters, the plea said.

AIRBPA has also alleged that the staff on duty was sometimes “intoxicated and misbehaved” with the women employees, but officials of AIR are not bothered.

The petition stated that AIRBPA, in its complaint, mentioned that despite numerous complaints “nothing has so far been done, though more than four months have passed since the union had given the letter to the director”.

It added that adequate measures to ensure the safety of the women employees on night shifts were not being taken by the department. The complaint said that women were “forced to come to a certain point for the pick-up, and dropped far away from homes at odd hours”.

Advocate Sugriv Dubey, filing the plea, said that though these employees have been working with the channel for more than 15 years, they are sexually harassed and their services sometimes terminated without assigning any reason.

“Female workers working under the control of respondents (I&B ministry, Prasar Bharti) are being regularly either harassed or terminated from employment and those workers do not have the capacity to approach the court. Their right is being evaded and no one is there to stop the sexual harassment of these employees,” the PIL said.

Dubey sought directions that “strong measures should be taken by the central government and Prasar Bharti to stop the sexual discrimination, exploitation and harassment taking place at their work place in the offices of AIR throughout the country”.

The PIL prayed the court to direct the centre and Prasar Bharti to formulate concrete policies and guidelines in respect of the service conditions and other protections as required to female workers by the department.

It also asked that Prasar Bharti should implement the Vishakha Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace, and sought that the ministry set up a committee to investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct.

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