Mahesh Murthy, high-profile investor in the Indian startup ecosystem and Seedfund co-founder, was arrested by the Mumbai police on Friday in a sexual harassment case registered in January against him, according to several media reports.
Hindustan Times reported that Murthy was arrested from his Mumbai residence on Friday after he returned from Goa in the morning. He has been accused of sexually harassing a Delhi-based woman and using obscene language in their interaction on WhatsApp.
"We have arrested him under Sections 354 (D) (stalking) and 509 (word, act or gesture to outrage modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code and under relevant sections of the Information Technology Act," Senior Inspector Ramchandra Jadhav of Khar police station was quoted as saying by DNA.
The police had filed an FIR against Murthy in January following several complaints from women to the National Commission of Women (NCW) about his alleged use of objectionable language against them online.
NCW took to Twitter to confirm the report on Murthy's arrest.
Based on a complaint filed at the Commission and following NCW's successful intervention, #MaheshMurthy has been arrested by @MumbaiPolice today u/Sec 354 IPC read with 67A of IT Act. @sharmarekha @MinistryWCD
" NCW (@NCWIndia) February 9, 2018
According to Hindustan Times, one of the women had approached the commission in 2017 with a written complaint alleging that Murthy used "objectionable, derogatory, obscene signs and sexual remarks" against her on social media.
Following the filing of the case, the venture capitalist had told the police that he never met the complainant and it was just one WhatsApp message that was being held against him, according to Mumbai Mirror .
"On 25 December 2016, the woman sent me Christmas greetings via WhatsApp and I replied with the lips emoticon. She found this message objectionable and started venting her anger on social networking sites. When I came to know about it, I apologised to her and she accepted it," the report quoted Murthy as telling the police.
Murthy had reportedly got interim relief from a Mumbai court till 30 January.
Early in 2017, entrepreneur Pooja Chauhan had called out Murthy on her LinkedIn page, alleging that Murthy had shared a lewd response to her Christmas greeting. This encouraged another entrepreneur Wamika Iyer, founder of FrshDay.in to share her experience. Iyer said that she approached Murthy for mentorship and received responses which were sexual in nature.