Air hostess sexual harassment row: Maneka Gandhi meets victim, tells Air India to complete inquiry by June

On Monday, Union minister Maneka Gandhi directed the head of the Internal Complaints Committee of Air India to complete the probe in the allegations levelled by one of its staffers by the end of June.

Maneka, Union Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), met the air hostess in New Delhi on Monday after the latter wrote a letter accusing a senior executive of sexual harassment and highlighted the alleged hesitance on the part of Air India authorities to probe the incident.

The victim also reached out to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. According to a WCD ministry official, Maneka has also taken up the matter with Prabhu.

File image of Maneka Gandhi. AFP

File image of Maneka Gandhi. AFP

"The minister has also spoken to the head of Internal Complaints Committee of Air India and has directed her to complete the inquiry within June," an official statement said.

WCD goofs up

Meanwhile, the WCD was embarrassed after a major faux pass, soon after the victim met Maneka. A ministry press note erroneously revealed the name of the victim, in a gross violation of norms for handling cases of sexual harassment, India Today reported.

However, after journalists flagged the mistake, the ministry promptly retracted the press statement and issued a fresh one omitting the name of the victim.

The victim, who accused a senior executive in Air India of sexually harassing women at the workplace, has been pursuing the case since September and said she was forced to reach out to the Union ministers in absence of concrete action on her complaint.

In a letter addressed to Prabhu and also marked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the air hostess had asked for appointing a "neutral" investigation committee to look into the incident. Responding to the letter, the civil aviation minister tweeted, "Asked Air India CMD to immediately address the issue. If necessary, will appoint another committee."

The air hostess has alleged that she had been harassed for the last six years by the senior executive, describing him as a "predator" and equal, if not worse, than Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film maker charged with sexual misconduct by leading actresses.

"This senior executive is a predator and has sexually propositioned me, abused me, used abusive languages on other women in my presence, spoken of sexual acts with me and other women in my presence in office premises... he has insulted me and denied me positions and privileges after I rejected his advances and he had made my life a misery at work and continues to do so," she said in her letter dated 25 May.

The woman said that she would reveal the name of the executive if she gets an audience with the aviation minister. The air hostess maintained that she had lodged a complaint with Air India in September and written to then CMD Rajiv Bansal but "none was forthcoming". She also accused the airline's women cell of dragging its feet.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2018 17:13:57 IST

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