Ugrappa should have accepted plaint against Assembly secy: women's panel

The Karnataka State Commission for Women has taken serious objection to the non-acceptance of a sexual harassment complaint by the expert committee on safety of women and children, headed by MLC V S Ugrappa.

A government employee had approached the committee last week and given a written complaint, stating that she had been sexually harassed by Legislative Assembly incharge secretary S Murthy.

When contacted, Ugrappa had told DH on November 22 that he had not accepted the complaint as it "lacked sufficient details or proof" to substantiate the charges levelled.

Commission chairperson Nagalakshmi Bai told DH that Ugrappa should not have rejected the complaint. "It is a government employee who has levelled such serious charges. How can one expect somebody to produce evidence for being harassed, sexually or otherwise? The commission will take the complaint seriously, if the complainant approaches us," she said.

Also, a group of women employees of the Assembly secretariat, had met her on Wednesday and had given an oral complaint against Murthy for harassing them at workplace.

"I did not accept the written complaint as the women said it required signatures of other women employees who are presently in Belagavi for the ongoing legislature session. They have said that they will come back on Friday and give a joint complaint," she said.

This group of women had also met Ugrappa, seeking the committee's intervention. He had, however, told DH that as the women were over "50 years of age," it was unlikely that they were harassed by Murthy, and that they all looked "respectable".

Bai also took serious objection to this statement. "There is no age bar for being subjected to harassment. Ugrappa's statement is not right. He should withdraw his statement," she said.

Committee member Suchitra Rao said Ugrappa should not have taken a unilateral decision not to accept the complaint. "To my knowledge, the committee has attended to all complaints. There are no instances of complaints being rejected on any grounds. All complaints lodged should be taken seriously," she said.

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