Delhi Court convicts ex-regional manager Srilankan Airlines

A Delhi Court on Wednesday ordered conviction of Lalit D’Silva Former Regional Manager (India) of Srilankan Airlines on charge of outraging the modesty of a female employee. Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha, at Patiala House Court pronounced the verdict through video conferencing today and will decide the quantum of sentence on 17th November 2020 in presence of the accused Lalit D’Silva. 

The sentence wasn’t pronounced by the Court as the accused, Lalit D’Silva wasn’t physically present before the Court today in wake of the pandemic and non operation of international flights, as its necessary for the accused to be present at the time of pronouncement of quantum of sentence as per the Procedure code. 

The Complainant’s lawyer Advocate Ajay Verma, while talking to India Legal said “The victim a woman with strong will power has been fighting  for her honour. She remained consistent in her testimony. Despite giving her best performance for 12 years to the company, the airline was insensitive and did not create safe working Environment for women. She was illegally terminated also. The termination has also been challenged before the Industrial Tribunal. The proceedings are pending. The Airline is also facing criminal trial for failure to have the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) as mandated under The sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention,Prohibition, and Redressal Act 2013 , Law as applicable in India to investigate the complaints of Sexual Harassment made by employees. The verdict will definitely will give other women a ray of hope to seek justice in case of harassment. The law has been enacted in 2013 but still in private sector it has not been strictly enforced. Many private institution in delhi don’t have ICC as mandated under the act.” 

According to the complainant (name of the complainant has been omitted to protect her identity), who was a sales executive at the Delhi office of Srilankan Airlines the accused jo people also who stopped her from filing a police complaint. Even after all the management people had assured her that they will take corrective action the accused, nothing was done. The complainant alleged that the accused, in his attempt to take revenge against her for complaining about sexual harassment committed by him, transferred her from Delhi to Kochi. The accused continuously used to harass her-while she was in Delhi after the incident and even after she joined the office in Kochi. 

The accused had argued that he had been falsely implicated in the case by the complainant when she had failed to get herself transferred back to Delhi Station from Coachin where she was transferred by the company. He defended himself by alleging that the complainant had failed to explain the delay in making her first complaint and that there are no witnesses to the alleged incident.

The Court observed that immediately after the incident took place the accused had made complaint to her seniors and waited for an action to be taken against the accused and made the complaint only after realising that no action will be taken against the accused who was a senior official in the company.

The Court found the complainant’s explanation for delay reasonable and noted that a woman in a social setting like ours is often subjected to many pressure in matters like these. The Court noted that factors like the social dignity of the complainant being on line and professional considerations like the accused her boss, could’ve played a role in the delay. 

The Court found the accused liable to be convicted under section 509 of IPC as it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused uttered the impugned words with an intention to outrage the modesty of the complainant uttered the impugned words, as such he is.

The incident goes back to 2011 when a female employee of SriLankan Airlines had alleged that she was sexually harassed by the SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager. After she approached the SriLankan Airline’s authorities with her complaint, she was informed that an internal investigation would be done, but it didn’t take place. 

-India Legal Bureau
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