Madras High Court
Usha C.S. vs Madras Refineries Ltd. And Ors. on 31 January, 2001
Equivalent citations: (2001) IILLJ 148 Mad, (2001) 1 MLJ 802
Author: N Jain
Bench: N Jain, K Sampath
N.K. Jain, C.J.
- These writ appeals have been filed against the common order of the learned single Judge made in W.P. Nos. 17347 and 17348 of 1998 dated November 3, 2000 dismissing both the writ petitions.
- Necessary facts of the case as alleged by the petitioner- appellant are as as follows: The appellant/petitioner joined the first respondent/Public Sector Undertaking on June 1, 1987 as a Senior Officer and got promoted as Deputy Manager in 1992. She was sexually harassed by the second respondent by means of sexual advances and propositions. She suffered the problem silently and she did not complain -to anyone officially then. In 1992, soon after the second respondent was posted as Head of the appellant’s department as General Manager, Corporate Planning, he resumed his old ways and used to pass comments about her appearance despite her objections. It is alleged that as she did not yield to his advances, the second respondent openly fought for her exclusion from the core group for managing the Madras Refineries Limited public issue and, since the then Chairman stood his ground, she was retained. The second respondent also refused to fill up performance appraisal for the year 1994-95 and she was not given her promotion due in the latter half of 1995, as one, of the members, one Narayanan, who was a close friend of the second respondent, saw to it that she was not promoted. It is further alleged that during 1995, when she was nominated by the Chairman of the Company as a Member of the Working group formed by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission on “Restructuring of Oil industry”, the second respondent continued with his sexual advances towards her. It is alleged that the petitioner got her admission to Ph. D. on the subject of Reforms in the Refinery Sector in Jamia Millia University, New Delhi and she applied for grant of study leave with pay in January, 1996 and she got no response from the Management. According to her, during April, 1996, when she was in Delhi, she received an undated handwritten note on the Company’s scribbling pad from an unidentified person advising to apply study leave without pay. On April 13, 1996 she met one M.B. Lal, the then Chairman-cum- Managing Director of the Company, who assured her that the study leave with pay would be granted and he also advised her to apply for reconsideration and accordingly, she applied on the same day. As there was no reply, she met the Secretary of the third respondent and apprised him. The Ministry issued a circular to the Undertakings in the Oil Sector to grant study leave with pay. The petitioner alleged in the affidavit that she was denied her pay from February, 1996 and only the second respondent had been the root cause behind the Company’s denial of her salary, promotion and study leave. A charge-sheet dated August 1, 1997 was issued by the first respondent alleging that the petitioner/appellant was absent without leave and committed acts subversive of discipline and had violated the Company’s Rules to which a reply of denial on August 8, 1997 followed by a detailed explanation on August 17, 1997 were sent by the petitioner. Thereafter, the charge sheet was not pursued. Even then her dues were not released and her salary from February, 1996 had been stopped. At this stage, she caused a lawyer’s notice dated April 27, 1998 to be issued to the first respondent alleging sexual harassment by the second respondent and also the denial of promotion, salary, leave and medical benefits. She also called upon the first respondent to take disciplinary action against the second respondent. There was a reply by the first respondent through its counsel. A rejoinder was sent by the petitioner’s lawyer to the counsel for the first respondent. On August 21, 1998, a letter was sent by the first respondent/company informing that a Complaints Committee had been formed to look into the allegations set out in the lawyer’s notice dated April 27, i998. Thereafter on September 7, 1998, a notice was sent by the Committee to the appellant asking her to appear before it on September 16, 1998. At her request, it was adjourned to October 6, 1998. In her request for adjournment she had asked the committee to involve a women organisation in its proceedings. On October 6, 1998, she appeared before the Committee and orally submitted that she wanted the assistance of a counsel and she also renewed her request for involving a women /organisation in the enquiry. Her requests were not heeded to. She was pressed to state her case. She received a telegram on October 8, 1998 asking her to attend the hearing on that day without fail. Another telegram was sent by the Committee that a Member of the Madras Christian Council of Service had been co-opted by the Company. Since the appellant was unwell, she sought for an adjournment. According to the petitioner, the first respondent/Company had not framed any Rules and regulations to deal with the question of sexual harassment.
- On coming to know that the second respondent had become the interim Chairman of the first respondent/company, by letter dated October 22, 1998, the petitioner/appellant expressed her apprehension about the lack of fairness in the Constitution of the Committee and its proceedings. She particularly wanted the second respondent to step down from the post of interim Chairman and not to participate in any decision regarding her complaint. Pointing out that A.M. Swaminathan, one of the Members of the Committee, knew most of the Directors and Executives of the Company, she wanted that the Complaint Mechanism be reconstituted after framing proper Rules/Regulations (or) guidelines ensuring absolutely independent and impartial enquiry. Her requests were ignored and by letter dated October 28, 1998 the first respondent advised the petitioner/appellant to report to duty immediately, thereafter, further informing that her absence after February 1, 1996 Was unauthorised and amounted to gross misconduct as per the charge sheet dated August 1, 1997. This necessitated her addressing the Government of India, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas by letter dated October 28, 1998. As there was no response, the petitioner filed W.P. No. 17347 of 1998 praying to quash the charge sheet dated August 1, 1997 and to grant the benefits of revision of salary with arrears of pay from January 1, 1992, promotion and for the grant of study leave with pay. She also filed W.P. No. 17348 of 1998 praying to quash the order dated August 21, 1998 and to constitute an independent Complaint Mechanism after framing proper rules.
- The first respondent filed a common counter affidavit in both the writ petitions denying various allegations made in the affidavits.
- It is contended that as per the promotion policy of the Company, the appellant was considered for promotion in July, 1995 and since she did not come up to the rank, she was not promoted. The appellant was not discriminated in the matter of interview call notice and promotion. Out of 23 persons who appeared for the interview in September, 1995, nine who were within the first nine ranks, were selected. The appellant did not fall within the first nine ranks in the overall ranking. The promotions were made strictly based on the promotion policy of the company.
- Regarding the grant of study leave with pay, as per the company’s policy framed in 1996, a request for study leave would be entertained only in cases where higher education for which the study leave is sought, is likely to be beneficial to the Company. Only if the formalities are complied with, and if the individual is found to be eligible, he/she could join any course. The appellant should have applied for study leave and joined the course only after grant of leave. It is submitted that the appellant joined as a Ph.D. Research Fellow Programme in Jamia Millia University, New Delhi in violation of the Company’s Rules and intimated the same to the Company after 11/2 months after joining the programme by way of an application, received by the Company on February 4, 1996 praying for study leave with pay as if it was a matter of right. The petitioner was not eligible for study leave with pay as per the Rules. Even then the Company offered her to avail study leave without pay provided she made the application through proper channel, which was not availed of. Only under such circumstances, the Company refused her request and also called upon her to report for duty.
- It is also submitted that the letter of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas dated May 30, 1996, relied on by the appellant was only recommendatory in nature and the Board of the first respondent/company was of unanimous view that granting of study leave with pay for longer duration would not be in the interest of the Company. The above decision of the Board was also communicated to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas by letter dated December 23, 1996.
- Again, by letter dated April 24, 1997, the first respondent/company advised the appellant either to report for duty immediately or to accept the offer of the company extended to her vide the Company’s letter dated February 20, 1996 to apply for study leave without pay from February 1, 1996 onwards. She was also warned that in the event of her failure either to report for duty immediately or to make a valid application for study leave without pay within a week thereafter, the Company would be constrained to initiate action as per the Rules of the Company. Admittedly, the appellant had not attended the office from November 15, 1995. Since she continued to be absent from duty, action as initiated in this regard as early as in August, 1997.
- Long after the initiation of disciplinary proceedings, the appellant caused a lawyer’s notice to be sent on April 27, 1998 selling out her entitlement to certain service benefits and also calling upon the first respondent to initiate action against the second respondent for alleged sexual harassment. It is also stated that the company had not received any complaint of sexual harassment from the appellant earlier than April 27, 1998, the date of the lawyer’s: notice. The first respondent kept the disciplinary proceedings in abeyance and on legal advice, the first respondent constituted the complaints committee in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court consisting of the fourth respondent as Chairperson and the fifth respondent as a Member, and the constitution of the complaints committee was approved by the then Chairman and Managing Director of the Company on August 12, 1998. It is stated that the second respondent was never involved in the decision-making process of constitution of committee except informing the appellant by letter dated August 21, 1998 about the Constitution of committee and that the appellant appeared and participated in the hearing only on one day and thereafter, she adopted dilatory and evasive tactics.
Thereafter, on the basis of request made by the petitioner, the Committee decided to co-opt another member from a Non-Governmental Organisation Ms. Isabel Richardson, senior counsellor from Madras Christian Council for Social Services. The appellant was also intimated by the Chairperson of the Committee on October 8, 1998. Thereafter, the appellant by letter dated October 22, 1998 wanted the procedure to be adopted by the Committee and the Rules framed by the Government/ employer. The appellant also complained that the Committee had overlooked the requirement of providing a counsellor or other support services, and that the fifth respondent was having an attitudinal bias against the appellant. She wanted the Company to furnish documents like Conduct, Discipline and Appeal Rules and Leave Rules to demonstrate her case before the Complaints Committee. She further wanted, until the enquiry into her complaint was completed, the second respondent should be asked to step down from the post of interim Chairman and Managing Director. She concluded by saying that until and unless all her requests were considered and action taken, the proceedings of the Complaints Committee should be deferred. The fifth defendant, Swaminathan, on the apprehension raised by the appellant, submitted his resignation. It is strongly contended that the appellant had been raising new issues at every stage of the proceedings only to prevent the smooth functioning of the committee and conclude its hearing and submit a report to the company.
- The second respondent filed a counter refuting the allegations of sexual harassment on his part. The appellant’s non-selection for promotion was justified. It is further contended that even for the year 1991-92 when his predecessor had assessed the appellant as an average officer and awarded four marks, he awarded five marks amounting to above average, for the year ending 1993-94. The allegations of sexual harassment were denied, stating that they are motivated and false. It is also pointed out that on August 1, 1997, when the charge sheet was framed, one S.M. Mathur was the Chairman and Managing Director, whereas the second respondent was the interim Chairman and Managing Director only from September 8, 1997 to September 30, 1997. It is emphatically stated that though it had been alleged that the sexual harassment commenced even in 1992 or even before, there had been no complaint made by the appellant to anybody till the lawyer’s notice was issued. It is also contended that the second respondent had not participated either in the passing of the Circular Resolution or when the Board took the Circular Resolution on record at the Board Meeting, held on December 2, 1998. It is further stated – that the then Chairman had taken the decision and constituted the Complaints Committee comprising of the independent members and the proceedings had been initiated by the competent authority as per the Rules.
- The appellant filed a rejoinder denying the averments made in the counter-affidavits and reiterating her allegations in the main writ petitions. 12. On the materials placed and arguments advanced, the learned single Judge considered the claims of the petitioner in detail under eight heads, and found that as per the Rules, the petitioner was not entitled to study leave with pay and, therefore, the action of the first respondent/Company in refusing the study leave with pay is in accordance with law.
- The learned single Judge also held that the claim of the appellant for promotion was duly considered by the qualified persons excluding the second respondent, that she had not secured sufficient marks to get selected to the post of Manager, which was a selection post and that, therefore, she was not selected. The learned single Judge held that depending on the outcome of the enquiry, the first respondent/Company would settle the non-payment of arrears of pay, if there is anything due. Liberty was given to the appellant to point out the mistake or defect in the calculation regarding pay revision. It was made clear that it was open to the appellant to receive the claim amounts which was processed as a special case relating to medical claim from the first respondent/Company.
- As regards the allegations of sexual harassment, the learned Judge found that the appellant had no cause for complaint and the committee had been properly constituted in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court. The learned Judge also found that in as much as the Conduct, Discipline and Appeal Rules of the first respondent/Company had been amended depending on the outcome of the special Complaints Committee findings, it was for the Board of Directors to take appropriate action in accordance with law.
- The learned Judge directed the Committee to select another Member of its choice in the place of A.M. Swaminathan within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of the order. 16. The learned Judge ultimately dismissed W.P. No. 17347 of 1998 and W.P. No. 17348 of 1998 but however giving certain directions.
- Aggrieved, the present writ appeals have been filed as stated above.
- Ms. Vaigai, the learned counsel for the appellant, vehemently submitted that the learned Judge erred in not accepting the case of the appellant in toto. According to the learned counsel, the learned Judge ought to have held that the first respondent was under the influence of the second respondent and had been instigated to deny study leave with pay to the appellant from February, 1996. She contended vehemently that the learned single Judge failed to appreciate the fact that the appellant had suffered hostility at work, and instead adopted a wholly wrong approach in her case. She contended that the directions given in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, were not looked into in the proper perspective. According to the learned counsel, the appellant decided to do a Doctorate not only to acquire better qualification and knowledge, but also to be away from the uncomfortable and hostile atmosphere at work created by the second respondent, which fact was not at all appreciated by the learned single Judge. According to the learned counsel without first deciding the allegation of sexual harassment against the second respondent and the complicity of the company in it, the charge sheet could not be proceeded with. She contended mainly that the learned single Judge had prejudged the charge regarding unauthorised absence.
- Mr. R. Krishnamurthy, learned senior counsel, representing the first respondent submitted that as a matter of fact, the petitioner without facing the enquiry wants to get direction from this Hon’ble Court using the mere averment that she has been sexually harassed and in the garb of that allegation, she wants to get promotion for which she was not entitled. Mr. T.R. Rajagopalan, learned senior counsel representing the second respondent, submits that the appellant is delaying the enquiry and the order of the learned single Judge needs no interference. Both the learned senior counsel have not disputed the legal position settled by the Apex Court in Vishaka ‘s case (supra). 20. We have heard the learned counsel on both sides and perused the materials available on record and the case law.
- This Court, while exercising the extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, cannot go into the questions of the facts and merits of the case. More so, as the facts culled out, before taking any action, an opportunity was given to face the charge, sheet/enquiry. The only issue is whether the charge sheet dated August 1, 1997 can be quashed and whether the appellant is entitled to get revision of salary with arrears of pay from January 1, 1992, without appearing before the Complaints Committee, which, to our mind, is not acceptable. It is also not necessary to appreciate the factual aspects but since the learned counsel had argued in detail before the learned single Judge and reiterated before us also, we have to deal with and consider the same.
- No doubt, it is true that the women work at work places and also at home with more strain. It is not an exaggeration to state that working women are kept engaged most of the time both mentally and physically not only at home but at working places also and thus play a dual role. It is also not in dispute that various laws including Constitution gave so many safeguards to Women, particularly to the women at work places to work with human dignity. The Apex Court in the landmark judgment in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, (supra) had prescribed guidelines. There will be no second opinion that the wrong doer should not be allowed to go scot-free. At the same time, the employer, who is supposed to keep a vigilant eye on the victim and the delinquent, is not expected to allow the women to use the shield so presented by the Apex Court as a weapon to wreak vengence. It is true that we are bound by the directions of the Apex Court, but that does not mean that they can be allowed to be interpreted to suit the convenience of the woman like the petitioner, for personal gain.
- The Court must also be careful to ensure that the process of the Court is not sought to be abused by woman like the petitioner, who desires to persist with the point of view, almost carrying it to the point of obstinacy. Keeping all these aspects in mind, we are of the considered opinion that what the Apex Court has held in Vishaka’s case, (supra) has to be construed as a double edged weapon to shield the women at working place from sexual harassment. At the same time, it should not be taken that all complaints by women should be presumed to be correct without referring to the Committee. If it is presumed so before investigation, then the very object will be defeated. Mere averment will not carry much weight. Averment should be supported and supplemented by unassailed proof, both oral and documentary. Complaints of harassment that too sexual harassment to working women has to be dealt with instantly. So, the employer, by taking more care and caution, has to weigh the truth and falsehood of the complaint so made, taking all the pros and cons into account. Here it is not the case that the complaint of alleged sexual harassment is not considered by the committee. But merely on the basis of averments, as stated above, it cannot be presumed and no direction can be issued or the other enquiry can be stayed till the Committee decides the complaint relating to sexual harassment.
- It is pertinent to note that as per the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant, the appellant had been subjected to sexual harassment by the second respondent from 1992 and even before. A cursory perusal of the correspondence which took place in the various letters and communications made by the appellant with the company and also with the Petroleum Ministry regarding her request for study leave with pay and the refusal by the respondent clearly reveals that not even a whisper was made by the petitioner about the alleged sexual harassment alleged to have been done by the second respondent. But significantly, her complaint of sexual harassment by the second respondent surfaces only in the lawyer’s notice issued in April, 1998 for the first time. A new case was sought to be put forward in the course of the argument that the petitioner intended prosecuting her Ph.D. not only to acquire further qualification but also to keep herself away from the alleged advances of the second respondent. As stated earlier, the petitioner/appellant before us is not an ordinary working woman, instead she was carrying on the Research by joining the Ph.D. course. Had there been any harassment much less a sexual harassment, a woman like the petitioner would not have kept quiet for a period of about six years. Learned counsel for the appellant was not able to convince us, by reliable materials, as to what prevented the appellant from making a complaint for all these years prior to the issuance of the lawyer’s notice. In view of that when the appellant is not facing the enquiry in its true spirit, we are not justified to accept the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant that the petitioner/appellant intended prosecuting her Ph.D. only to keep herself away from the advances so made by the second respondent.
- No doubt true that as to whether the petitioner was entitled to study leave with pay and other benefits and whether she was justified in staying away without obtaining prior permission from the first respondent are the subject of enquiry in the disciplinary proceedings against the appellant. Mentioning this, the learned counsel argued finding fault with the order of the learned single Judge who gave the verdict that as per the rules, the appellant was not entitled to study leave with pay. In our considered view, this conclusion arrived at by the learned Single Judge had been invited by the appellant herself. A look at the detailed order of the learned single Judge clearly shows that arguments were advanced to substantiate the claim of the appellant that she would be entitled to study leave with pay notwithstanding her not applying for and securing permission before joining the course. When the appellant sought for a finding on the questions of facts so involved, the conclusion arrived at by the learned single Judge that as per the Rules the appellant would not be entitled to study leave with pay, cannot therefore, be found fault with. When the petitioner invokes extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and advances arguments touching upon the merits of the case with factual aspects, nothing will prevent the learned Judge to arrive at a conclusion taking into consideration the factual aspects, on the question of facts. As stated, the same situation arose before us, warranting to give the factual aspects at length. The appellant, it seems has raised the factual question for a finding in her favour that she is entitled to study leave with pay based on the circular of the Central Government but having failed in that aspect, she is finding fault with the Judge for giving a finding on facts. On consideration, we are not able to give much credence to the arguments of the learned counsel on this aspect. The Writ Petition No. 17347 of 2000 filed by the Petitioner on these grounds fails as devoid of merits.
- Regarding the directions of the Supreme Court in Vishaka’s case, (supra) learned counsel submitted that they have not been followed in this case in respect of the composition of the committee. She submitted that there should be support mechanism for the appellant to assist her during the enquiry. She wanted the Chairperson to be changed by Ms. Vasantha Devi, former Vice Chancellor of Mother Teresa University. We find that the objection of the appellant against the Chairperson is not very clear. A cursory perusal of the counter of the first respondent company reveals that Ms. Rekha Shetty had served reputed organisations like Apollo Hospitals and Sterling Group of Companies in various senior managerial capacities, that she had been actively involved in many social organisations in Madras serving the cause of Society in different spheres, that she was the District Governor Nominee of Rotary Club for 1999-2000, that she had been closely involved in activities focusing on issues relating to women in the society and that she was also a Syndicate Member of Anna University. It is also seen that because of the complaint of attitudinal bias against the fifth respondent, A.M. Swaminathan, he submitted his resignation. The petitioner had not disputed about the qualifications of the fourth respondent. In para 30 of the rejoinder, it is stated thus:
“I deny that the second respondent had no hand in the constitution of the Committee and reiterate my allegations regarding his influence. The respondent has not stated why as Rules sought for by me repeatedly were not given by the Company. The bias of the 1st respondent is demonstrated by this. I reiterate my statements about the committee’s members also………”
- As directed by the leaped Single Judge in the place of A.M. Swaminathan, one K.A. Nambiar, former Chief Secretary Government of Tamil Nadu had been co-opted against whom nothing is alleged. Learned counsel submitted that according to the decision of the Supreme Court in Vishaka’s case, (supra), the company should not at all be involved or should not have a say in the constitution of the Committee. We are not at all justified in countenancing such a submission. What the Supreme Court says in the said judgment, relevant to us, runs as follows: “Complaint Mechanism: Whether or not such conduct constitutes an offence under law or breach of the service rules, an appropriate complaint mechanism should be created in the employer’s organisation for redress of the complaint made by the victim [Italics supplied by us] ………. ” ……… The Complaint Committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women. Further, to prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such Complaints Committee should involve a third party, either NGO or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment………” The Committee is headed by a woman, the other members are not employees of the Management and in the absence of any specific allegation of mala fide on their part, the ; committee so constituted, as per the norms in the Supreme Court decision, cannot be changed on the whims of the appellant.
- It is also seen that in a latter decision in Vineet Narain v. Union of India, the Supreme Court further clarified the position as under:
“As pointed out in Vishaka ‘s case (supra) it is the duty of the executive to fill the vacuum by executive orders because its field is co-terminous with that of the legislature and where there is inaction even by the executive, for whatever reason, the judiciary must step in, in exercise of its constitutional obligations under the aforesaid provisions to provide a solution till such time as the legislature acts to perform its role by enacting the proper legislation to cover the field.”
- That apart on consideration, we find that the supreme Court nowhere says that the complaint mechanism should be created by an outside agency alone. The Supreme Court does not say that no insider should be involved. We fail to appreciate the arguments advanced by the learned counsel that the complaint committee shall consist of outside agency only. We are of the considered opinion that Apex Court in the above case, maintained that the constitution of Complaints Committee is only for finding out the truth or otherwise of the facts and also to award compensation. Then it has to be followed by domestic enquiry. It is also seen that the Complaints Committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women. It has to be ensured that there is no undue pressure or influence from senior levels. To achieve this, the Supreme Court has suggested that the Complaints Committee should involve a third party, either a Non-Governmental Organisation or other body who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment. In the instant case, the Committee consists of three members, all are outsiders, majority namely, two are women and the Chairperson is a woman. The credentials of the Chairperson are absolutely without blemish. As already pointed out, no particular objection regarding the qualifications of the fourth respondent as Chairperson was put forward in the affidavits. Even in the course of the arguments, learned counsel was not able to point out anything against the fourth respondent. The fifth respondent volunteered out and in his place another experienced bureaucrat has been appointed. The objection on behalf of the appellant regarding the composition of the Committee cannot at all be sustained, We find no iota of truth in the allegations levelled. Further we are of the opinion that if a Complaint Committee is constituted according to the whims and fancies of the appellant, the administration will get struck. Enough safeguards were provided by the Supreme Court. The learned Counsel cannot be allowed to interpret in her own way to suit the convenience of the appellant.
- Learned counsel submitted that till such time the Complaints committee decides her allegation of sexual harassment, the other enquiry in the disciplinary proceedings should not be proceeded with. The two enquiries are not related to each other. One relates to the appellant absenting herself without leave and, her entitlement to arrears, pay, promotion, etc. and the other relates to sexual harassment. The appellant is not at all justified in contending that till such time the enquiry pertaining to sexual harassment is over, the charges against her should not been enquired into. It is well settled that a person who seeks equity must come with clean hands. In such a factual situation as mentioned above, we cannot brush aside the arguments of the learned senior counsel for the respondents 1 and 2 that only because of the refusal of promotion, study leave with pay etc., the appellant had come out with a complaint with vengeance. The further objection of the appellant that the company has not framed the Rules to be observed during the enquiry as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court cannot also be countenanced. The Rules have indeed been framed and also made available to her. She will do well to co-operate and have the enquiries completed. Any more resistance on the part of the appellant to get on with the enquiries would cast serious doubts about her bona fides. It is up to her to face the charges against her and satisfy the Committee enquiring into the charges against her that she was entitled to study leave with pay and that she was justified in staying away. She should not be dragging her feet. The enquiry into charges against her need not await the decision of the Complaints Committee. Both can proceed simultaneously and independently. The proceedings in one need not impinge on the proceedings in the other.
- During the course of the arguments learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the appellant had been subject to enormous mental agony and pain and that she should have some support mechanism at the enquiry. On our suggestion, she filed a memo giving the name of one Ms. Vasuki. We direct the Complaints Committee to consider allowing the appellant to face the enquiry with the assistance of the said Ms. Vasuki. It is expected that the Complaints Committee shall submit its report at the earliest. It is made clear that the enquiry will not prevent the department to complete its departmental enquiry. It is also expected that the appellant will co-operate with the enquiry. We hope that bom the authorities, who conduct the enquiries, will decide the respective enquiries without prejudice to any observation of mis Court.
- In view of what we have discussed above, we do not find any illegality or irregularity in the order of the learned single Judge calling for our interference. Both the writ appeals are dismissed with the above observation. No costs.