Criminal Petition No. 8361 of 2016. Case: Sunil Menon and Ors. Vs Ramesh Chelliah and Ors.. Karnataka High Court

Case Number:Criminal Petition No. 8361 of 2016
Party Name:Sunil Menon and Ors. Vs Ramesh Chelliah and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: Arun Kumar K., Advocate and For Respondents: Pramila Nesargi, Senior Counsel for S.J. Chouta, Advocate
Judges:John Michael Cunha, J.
Issue:Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) - Sections 154, 156(3), 482; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Sections 120(b), 500, 503, 506(b); Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 - Sections 2(p), 2(r), 3, 4
Judgement Date:March 15, 2017
Court:Karnataka High Court
 
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Order:

John Michael Cunha, J.

  1. This petition is filed under section 482 of Cr.P.C. seeking to quash the proceedings initiated against the petitioners in PCR. No. 44/2016 pending on the file of the II Addl. City Civil & Sessions Judge, Bengaluru.

  2. In the petition it is stated that petitioner No. 1 is the Vice President of the Ensemble Engineering Department in a Company named Adva IT solutions Pvt. Ltd., (hereinafter referred to as "The Company"). He is the senior most employee of the Company. In terms of salary, he is the highly paid employee of the Company. Petitioner No. 2 is the Senior Manager, Engineering Department. Petitioner No. 3 is the Director of the Site Operations Department of the same Company.

  3. It is further averred that respondent No. 1 currently earns a pay of Rs. 62,08,119/- p.a. The salary earned by respondent No. 1 clearly depicts that respondent No. 1 is being given fair treatment in the Company. It is stated that, on 12.7.2016, three women employees of the Company filed written complaints, alleging sexual harassment by respondent No. 1. Pursuant to the said complaints, in terms of the mandate of the Company's Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Policy, Independent Committee was set up for resolution of the complaints.

  4. On 11.8.2016, after a lapse of considerable time since the initiation of the enquiry proceedings, the respondent No. 1 got issued a legal notice to the petitioners alleging discrimination and unfair treatment on account of his caste. But, according to the petitioners, the first respondent's own review and appraisal of the work by petitioner No. 2 would establish the contrary. It is further stated that, at no point of time has the Company enquired about the caste of respondent No. 1 or any other employees. But, based on the allegations made in the legal notice, respondent No. 1 instituted a private complaint before the learned II Addl. City Civil & Sessions Judge, Bengaluru and the same is numbered as PCR No. 44/2016. Learned Sessions Judge, without recording any reasons and contrary to the several rulings of this Court, directed enquiry in complete disregard to the fact that even an enquiry under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (for short "SC & ST (POA) Act, 1989") may in all probability have draconian consequences as far as the petitioners are concerned.

  5. It is further contended that the above mentioned facts prima facie establish that respondent No. 1 has instituted the complaint with the sole objective to avoid any consequences which may have been due in the light of the allegations made against him. The respondent No. 1 has instituted the proceedings with an intention to harass the petitioners. The allegations made in the complaint, even if accepted on their face value, do not prima facie constitute any case against the petitioners. The uncontroverted allegations made in the complaint do not attract sections 3 and 4 of the SC & ST (POA) Act, 1989. Without prejudice to the above, it is stated that, no such statements are made in public and hence the ingredients of the above mentioned sections are not made out. The allegations made in the private complaint are highly absurd and inherently improbable. The proceedings are instituted with a malafide intention and ulterior motive for wrecking vengeance on the petitioners and to avoid the liability that may be imposed on the respondent No. 1. On these grounds, the petitioners have sought to quash the proceedings initiated against them in PCR. No. 44/2016.

  6. On entertaining the petition, by order dated 16.11.2016, the further proceedings in PCR. No. 44/2016 were stayed. On service of notice, respondent No. 1 filed an application for vacating the stay order inter alia denying the averments made in the complaint and further contending that there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused and the learned Sessions Judge has directed investigation after proper application of mind and therefore, the interim order granted by this Court is liable to be recalled.

  7. Though the matter was posted for hearing on I.A. No. 2/2016, with the consent of both the parties, I have heard the learned counsel for the petitioners and the respondent No. 1 and learned Addl. SPP for respondent No. 2 for final disposal of the petition.

  8. Learned counsel for the petitioners has reiterated the grounds urged in the petition and by referring to the relevant portion of the legal notice issued by the respondent No. 1 at Annexure-'E' would submit that in the legal notice issued by the respondent No. 1 dated 11.08.2016 there were no allegations whatsoever that the petitioners herein either ill-treated or abused the respondent No. 1 on account of his caste. Learned counsel pointed out that respondent No. 1 was appointed on 24.2.2014 as Director of Engineering on a salary of Rs. 46,80,000/- per annum. On 12.7.2016, three complaints were received from the women employees of the Company alleging sexual harassment by the respondent No. 1. An independent committee was constituted as per the policy of the Company to enquire into the said allegations and the enquiry is completed and the report is awaited. Anticipating disciplinary action, the respondent No. 1 issued the aforesaid legal notice dated 11.8.2016. Learned counsel has taken me through the said legal notice and has laid emphasis on the material allegations made therein, which are extracted as under:-

    "That first second and third of you treated our client unfairly since two years and he was de-motivated.... First of you purposefully evaded providing new assignment and that out client was neglected and sidelined for the reasons known to first of you.

    (underlining supplied)

    Our client further states that he was heading a team of about 14 employees and his performance was always rated good through out the years. Initially it was normal for the first six months and then you have come across to know that our client belonged to Scheduled Caste community and first second and third of you being upper caste kept distance from our client in all activities. Our client does have strong reasons to believe that ill-treatment, boycott and harassment are because our client belongs to the Scheduled Caste and you have highlighted our client's caste among other staff in office and instigated others for social boycott.

    (underlining supplied)

    That our client further states that there was clear...

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