Delhi HC directs the school authorities to forward all sexual harassment complaints to the police
The Delhi High Court led by Justices Siddharth Mridul and Deepa Sharma while disposing off an appeal expressed shock over the way a private school handled students’ sexual harassment complaints.
Earlier a Petition had been filed by Anirudh Kumar Pandey who was in the employment of Modern Public School, Delhi as TGT (music teacher). He was accused of outraging the modesty of female students and misbehaving with lady teachers, While on duty in September 2000, after which he submitted his resignation instead of offering an explanation.
However in the present appeal the petitioner had submitted before the Court that the resignation was withdrawn by him before it was admitted by the Director of Education. He had contended that the resignation was not voluntary and was extracted from him through coercion and duress and that the School gave only 24 hours to reply the show cause notice which itself shows that undue pressure was put upon him. Thus arguing that the Management of the School had acted with bias and pre-determined mind to terminate his services
Advocate Anuj Aggarwal appeared for the appellant while Advocate Neeraj Malhotra appeared for the respondents.
The counsel on behalf of respondent alleged that the School had received various complaints of sexual harassment from the girls who were attending his music class and of misbehavior from the teachers and after an enquiry, a show cause notice was given to the appellant and he was asked to submit his reply within 24 hours. He instead of submitting his reply within 24 hours, in order to avoid any enquiry into such serious allegations of molestation of young girls, submitted his resignation which was accepted by the Managing Committee on the same very date.
The Court while accepting the contentions put forth by the school held that the settled proposition of law is that once the resignation is accepted, the subsequent withdrawal of the resignation is not permissible.
The court in holding so reiterated the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of North Zone Cultural Centre and Another vs. Vedpathi Dinesh Kumar (2003) 5 SCC 455 wherein the Apex Court had held that the resignation of an employee becomes effective on acceptance even if the acceptance is not communicated to him
The court further mentioned that Rule 114A of Delhi School Education Rules, 1973, which deals with the resignation by an employee of a recognized private school, also mentions that once the resignation is accepted by the Managing Committee of the school, it is final.
Thus the Court held that the impugned judgment did not suffer from any illegality or infirmity and needed no interference
The court however scorned at the manner in which the school authorities handled the number of sexual harassment complaints received from young girls.
“Instead of forwarding such complaints to the appropriate authorities for legal action, they felt satisfied by issuing a showcause notice calling upon the explanation probably preparing to take disciplinary action against the appellant,” observed the court
The court while showing utter dismay, stated, “ The School is an institution of learning where the child is prepared and groomed for the Society. It is the duty of every School to provide safe and healthy atmosphere for the psychological, cognitive and behavioral development of the children. When it does not happen this way, it not only shatters their faith and trust but also tarnishes the physical, psychological, cognitive and behavioral development of the children.”
The court further directed the school authorities to forward all the complaints received by them relating to sexual harassment of the young girls to the police so that necessary action can be taken on those complaints and the court be informed about the action taken within two weeks from the day of judgment .
Read the judgment below: