Supreme Court disposes of woman’s petition accusing senior Jammu and Kashmir health official of sexual harassment

The Supreme Court has disposed of a writ petition filed by a victim of sexual harassment working with the health department of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir while refusing CBI investigation in the case. 

A two-judge bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari held that shifting the investigation from Jammu and Kashmir Police to CBI cannot be done, especially when the High Court had quashed the complaint and the question of further investigation cannot be dealt at the stage. 

The writ petition was filed by the woman, who had levelled sexual harassment charges against Dr Saleem Ur Rehman, Director of Health Services, while she went to meet him over a complaint. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by him and there was nobody in the room. She had further stated there was an attempt to rape made by the doctor but she escaped after she made loud noise. 

During the hearing counsel, Wills Mathew, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that this is a case of sexual harassment which occurred in 2014 and nobody appeared as a witness in my case.

The Court asked, “Did you lodge FIR, what happened to that?” 

He replied, “My Lord, the Investigating Officer filed Closure Report which was accepted by the learned Trial Court Magistrate ad dropped the criminal proceedings and later when I approached the Revisional Court, the order of the Ld Magistrate was set aside against which the accused moved the High Court, which ,in turn, had quashed the order of Revisional Court.” 

“How can you pray for CBI Investigation, there is no que of further investigation in a case where High court has quashed criminal proceedings?” said the Supreme Court. 

The Court also refused to stay the defamation case filed by the doctor against the petitioner/woman holding that such defamation proceedings cannot be stayed, it has to go on as per court of law.

Advocate Taruna Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, who appeared for Jammu and Kashmir Police, submitted, “Neither we denied earlier nor today. We are willing to provide her the security, subject has to approach our office.”

Naveen R Nath, Senior Advocate for Dr. Saleem Ur Rehman (Respondent No 5), Dr. Arshid Tak (Respondent No 7), Dr. Ashraf (Respondent No 8) made his submission before the court that entire incident captured on CCTV.

Background of the Case

The Petitioner/Woman on October 18, 2007, was appointed at PHC Sallar as Staff Nurse. In December 2013, she had filed a complaint against Dr Nazi, CMO Anantnag and Dr Arshid BMO Sallar regarding sexual harassment at work place on which no action take place, alleged in the writ petition. 

On 03.03.2014, she was transferred from Pahalgam to SDH Seer. It was further mentioned in the petition that the Medical Superintendent/Respondent No 8, who was in charge of Seer started sexually harassing and torturing her. Later he had apologised to the petitioner in writing. 

On 08.04.2014, she was transferred from Seer to Ashmuqam and when she had joined, she was told by CMO Anantnag Dr Nazir that there was a complaint against her pending with Director of Health Services Dr Saleem Ur Rehman who is respondent No 5 herein. 

It was further alleged in the plea that on 05.06.2014 when she went to meet him she was sexually harassed and tortured by him. Later she had filed a police complaint. It was also alleged that when went to file a complaint she was forced to sit in the police station till late evening and was suggested to compromise the matter which she had refused to do. After no action taken by the Police on her complaint she had moved to Ld Magistrate Court at Srinagar which had directed to the SHO of the Police Station to investigate the matter. 

Following which a closure report was filed by the Police and a notice issued to petitioner for filing the objections. But due to some reasons she could not approached the Ld Magistrate Court. Thereafter, the Ld Magistrate closed the Criminal Proceedings.   

Meanwhile, a defamation suit was filed against her by Respondent No 5/ Dr Saleem Ur Rehman. 

She had filed a Revision Petition against the order of Ld Magistrate which was set aside by the Revisional Court. Against that order Respondent No 5/ Dr Saleem Ur Rehman had moved the High Court which in turn had dismissed the order of Revisional court thereby affirming the order Ld Magistrate for closure of criminal proceedings. 

Revision petition filed to counter defamation suit: Jammu and Kashmir Police

The Jammu and Kashmir Police in its reply affidavit to the Writ Petition filed by woman had submitted that in her revision petition before the Additional Sessions Judge, Srinagar (Revisional Court) she had submitted she came to know about the closure report of police when she was served the notice in defamation suit filed by the Respondent 5. 

“The only irresistible conclusion is that she filed the revision petition before the Revisional Court against the order of Judicial Magistrate merely for the reason that she wanted to frustrate or counterblast the defamation suit filed by the respondent no 5,” said the Jammu and Kashmir Police. 

Further the police had stated, “the stand of the petitioner that she was pressurised not to attend the trial court stands belied and exposed. Just as the Complainant was at no stage prevented from seeking the remedies, right up to this hon’ble court by the respondents or by any other functionary, she could not have been prevented from appearing before the Ld Magistrate by any functionary of the state, however high or mighty he may have been. The assertion of the petitioner that she despite her efforts could not appear before the Trial Court simply does not appeal to the common sense and prudent mind.” 
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