Assembly secretary accused of sexual, professional harassment

Officer asked woman to go with him to Belagavi and later to Goa

A sexual harassment complaint has been filed against Legislative Assembly incharge secretary S Murthy before the expert committee on safety of women and children, headed by MLC V S Ugrappa.

The complainant, who is a legislature secretariat employee, has sought disciplinary action against Murthy. In her complaint, the employee has accused Murthy of hurling verbal profanities at her and harassing her for not accompanying him to Belagavi, where the legislature session is on.

The complainant has charged that Murthy insisted that she accompany him to Belagavi, so that they could later go to Goa together. From commenting on her looks to asking her to "dye her hair," so that he can feel "energised," Murthy is also accused of levelling veiled threats against the complainant.

Ugrappa told DH that the complainant met him on November 18 and lodged the complaint. He has, however, not accepted the complaint on the grounds that it lacked substantial proof, and that it would become an embarrassment at the "national level".

"The complaint lacked any details pertaining to the time, place and dates on which the harassment occurred. There is nothing to consider in the complaint, except for mere accusations against Murthy. I simply cannot refer the matter for enquiry. If I do, then it will cause Karnataka embarrassment at the national level. Vidhana Soudha has its own sanctity," he said.

Ugrappa said that he had spoken to Murthy, who defended himself, saying that he was being targeted because of his caste and his promotion based on reservation.

Ugrappa said once the complainant gave a detailed complaint, he would issue a notice to Murthy, seek explanation and later refer it to the Assembly Speaker for initiating appropriate action, if need be.

Another complaint

In addition to the sexual harassment complaint, a group of women have lodged a professional harassment case against Murthy, for harassing them on a daily basis.

"A group of women have also given a complaint. They are all over 50 years of age. It doesn't look like he would have harassed them, as they all look respectable," he said.

Wary that their complaint would not be taken seriously by the committee, the women have decided to approach the Karnataka State Commission for Women.

Commission chairperson Nagalakshmi Bai told DH that she had received an anonymous call from a woman, making an accusation against Murthy. "I have, however, learnt that they will be filing an official complaint before the Commission on Wednesday," she said.

The women have sent similar complaints to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Law Minister T B Jayachandra and Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad.

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